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The Gemara in Kiddushin (29b) says that one should push off getting married and Learn Torah instead first because: ר׳חיים בצוארו ויעסוק בתורה

What is R'Chaim doing on my neck?

What does this have to do with Marriage??


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closed as off-topic by msh210 Mar 14 '17 at 22:00

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This is not a reference to anyone named "Chaim". It says "Rav Chaim" meaning a living rabbi - is around your neck.

This has a lot to do with marriage! Would you have a wedding ceremony without a rabbi not just around your neck, but practically AT your neck, before, throughout the ceremony and even afterwards?

Before the wedding, you're using a shadchan who is approved by some rabbi. If not that, and you're finding your bashert on your own, you're going to want the "schmooze" about the boy or girl and their family. Who will you ask? The family's rabbi, of course.

Before the wedding, the rabbi will be at your neck advising you, looking over the ketubah, advising the badeken. He will be under the chuppah. You'll have a bunch of rabbis at your neck making sheva brachot.

After marriage, you'll have a rabbi advising you, showing up at a brit or ten, perhaps a pidyon haben, and a few B'nai Mitvah...

You see my point? Rabbis are constatntly at or around your neck. BTW, of course, it doesn't have to be the same rabbi. The Gemarra is just stating that there is a Rav Chaim - a living rabbi constantly around.

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Chas v'shalom that our holy tanaim and amoraim, whose greatness we cannot begin to fathom, lived mundane lives like, l'havdil, people nowadays do. They studied Torah constantly and had no time for other pursuits. Chas v'shalom to think that they had mundane jobs, or married women, or engaged in agriculture. When the holy g'mara speaks of such things, they're to be understood as metaphors and parables, as allusions to deep concepts that we can possibly hope to understand with the help of our forebears, the commentaries on the g'mara.

In fact, the g'mara you cite, just a bit up that same page, discusses the possibility of (literally) marrying a woman. Torah study is obviously paramount, but the g'mara ponders briefly whether a mother needs to teach her son Torah ("איהי מנלן דלא מיחייבא כו׳"), which would imply that one should in fact marry a woman. It rejects the possibility, thus cementing the idea that a life of Torah precludes marrying a woman. (Rather, those who are fortunate enough to live a Torah life should marry men.) After that, whenever the g'mara speaks of marrying a woman, working the land, or being employed, it's to be understood as a metaphor for one aspect or another of Torah study.

And marrying a woman, specifically, is often used as a metaphor for יגיעה בתורה, working hard to understand Torah. This is because both יגיעה בתורה and marrying a woman are things that are "found". As the g'mara says (M'gila 6), "אם יאמר לך אדם… יגעתי ומצאתי, תאמין". And as the g'mara quotes (B'rachos 8), I think from Nach somewhere, "ומוצא אני מר ממות את האשה".

Now let's look at the passage you're asking about:

ללמוד תורה ולישא אשה ילמוד תורה ואח"כ ישא אשה ואם א"א לו בלא אשה ישא אשה ואח"כ ילמוד תורה אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל הלכה נושא אשה ואח"כ ילמוד תורה ר' יוחנן אמר ר׳ חיים בצוארו ויעסוק בתורה ולא פליגי הא לן והא להו

A translation that decodes the metaphor:

If one is trying to prioritize the general study of Torah and יגיעה בתורה, he should study generally first and then work hard. But if he can't understand anything without working hard at it, he should first work hard and only afterward study generally. Rav Y'huda said that Sh'muel said: If he's studying halacha, he must work hard at it from the outset. [Maharasha explains that this is to avoid the possibility of error in practical halacha.] Rabi Yochanan said: If Rav Chayim Soloveitchik is burdening him, he must work hard from the outset. And Sh'muel and Rabi Yochanan aren't arguing: Sh'muel's rule is for Bavel, [where people were used to the style of Rav Chayim but did not study practical halacha,] and Rabi Yochanan's is for Israel [where the reverse is true].

Obviously the halls of Torah study nowadays are more like those of Bavel. But people now are lazy and don't want to work hard, so the study of practical halacha is avoided altogether.

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