Rambam Talmud Tora 3,5 writes (my bold):

" מי שנשאו ליבו לקיים מצוה זו כראוי לה, ולהיות מוכתר בכתרה של תורה - לא יסיח דעתו לדברים אחרים, ולא ישים על ליבו שיקנה תורה עם העושר והכבוד כאחד...

" כל המשים על ליבו שיעסוק בתורה ולא יעשה מלאכה, ויתפרנס מן הצדקה--הרי זה חילל את השם, וביזה את התורה, וכיבה מאור הדת, וגרם רעה לעצמו, ונטל חייו מן העולם הבא: לפי שאסור ליהנות בדברי תורה, בעולם הזה."

I clearly see a connection between 3 terms:

  • "נשא ליבו",
  • "כתר תורה" (לימוד תורה)
  • a clear prohibition (and even חילול ה') of living from charity

In Shmitah 13,11 he writes the famous:

"ולא שבט לוי בלבד, אלא כל איש ואיש ... אשר נדבה רוחו אותו והבינו מדעו להיבדל לעמוד לפני ה' לשרתו ולעובדו לדעה את ה', ... הרי זה נתקדש קודש קודשים, ויהיה ה' חלקו ונחלתו לעולם ולעולמי עולמים; ויזכה לו בעולם הזה דבר המספיק לו, כמו שזיכה לכוהנים וללויים. "

In this passage I see three different things:

  • "נדבה רוחו"
  • "לעמוד לפני ה' לשרתו ולעובדו"
  • no need to work for living but to live from other's gifts as Kohanim and Leviim

I am suddenly very confused, as I held that those two things always go together, as all the Poskim tie them in one.

How those three contradictions can be explained?

(Maybe I didn't phrase it right, please help me out).

  • "I am suddenly very confused, as I held that those two things always go together, as all the Poskim tie them in one." (1) If there is a visible distinction between the two passages, where Poskim tie them in one, why don't you quote [some of] those Poskim? They seem to be where the problem lays. (2) As accepted practice (and, I assume, Poskim) today seems to go against the second part of the first passage you quote (כל המשים על ליבו שיעסוק בתורה ולא יעשה מלאכה ויתפרנס מן הצדקה...), how are they tying the second passage to it? (Maybe they're tying it to something outside the Mishneh Torah?)
    – Tamir Evan
    Oct 16, 2022 at 11:39

2 Answers 2


This contradiction was apparently noted and addressed by R. David Ibn Zimra. In his commentary to the statement in Hilchot Shemita V'yovel he writes:

הוא מיושר דעתו וסברתו ז"ל ודקדקתי בדבריו ז"ל שכתב ויזכה לו בעוה"ז דבר המספיק לו שהקב"ה יזכה לו להרויח בעולם דבר המספיק לו ולא שישליך עצמו על הציבור ועיין במה שכתב בפירוש משנת ולא קרדום לחתוך בו

This is from the straightness of his mind and thought of blessed memory. And I carefully analyzed his words where he wrote "he will merit in this world something that suffices for him" [deriving] that the Holy One Blessed Be He will merit him to profit in the world something that suffices for him, but not that he should cast himself upon the congregation. See what he has written in his commentary to the Mishnah of "nor an axe to cut with".

He points to Rambam's commentary to the Fourth chapter of Avot where Rambam elaborates even more on what he wrote in Hilchot Talmud Torah. The resolution appears to be (according to Ibn Zimra) that in Avot and Talmud Torah Rambam is discussing someone who casts himself on the congregation for support, wheas in Shemita V'yovel he is discussing someone who will rely on God.

  • "Unfortunately" this interpretations is very unorthodox. Most Poskim strongly disagree that Talmid Shochom must earn his living. I wanted to see if anybody finds the contradicting language of כתר תורה vs לשרתו ולעבדו. –
    – Al Berko
    Jun 19, 2018 at 21:31
  • 3
    @AlBerko Your question wasn't about most poskim; it was about Rambam.
    – Alex
    Jun 19, 2018 at 21:33
  • It is "unorthodox" because Rambam explicitly compares the "servant of G-d" to the Tribes of Kohanim and Levy that lived from מתנות כהונה, as the other Tribes "appreciation" for their holy work.
    – Al Berko
    Jun 19, 2018 at 21:47
  • 2
    @AlBerko But he doesn't say that anyone can take the gifts that are designated for Kohanim/Leviim, so what's your point?
    – Alex
    Jun 19, 2018 at 21:52
  • 2
    @AlBerko And the answer to that contradiction is, according to Radvaz, that in Talmud Torah the person is asking for gifts while in Shemitah V'yovel he relies on God to provide them.
    – Alex
    Jun 19, 2018 at 22:11

In his laws of Torah study, he writes that you can't say "I won't get a job, I'll just ask for charity."

In Shemita veYovel he is waxing poetic (as he does at the end of every book), that kol ba'ei olam -- every human being (R. Willig points out that phrase doesn't just mean Jews) can decide to dedicate their life to serving God in some way or another (not necessarily study), in which case God will work it out that their sustenance won't be that difficult.

  • 2
    I didn't see a Posek that divides between studying Torah and serving G-d. Practically, the only way of serving G0d IS studying the Torah all the time. I don't see what your answer adds to the question.
    – Al Berko
    Jun 19, 2018 at 21:33
  • @AlBerko if your mother needs a ride to the airport and there is absolutely no one else who can take her, you are OBLIGATED to close the Bava Basra and take her to the airport.
    – Shalom
    Jun 20, 2018 at 2:33
  • 2
    The Leviim singing in the Beis HaMikdash were not shteiging ois in the K'tzos, but they were still being oved Hashem.
    – Shalom
    Jun 20, 2018 at 2:34
  • There are not 50, but 500 shades of "needs" and "obligated" and "B"B study". For example the Gemmorah in Megila states that T"T overrides Kibud Av, (and most Poskim agree) but what Kibud and what T"T is not clear.
    – Al Berko
    Jun 20, 2018 at 11:08

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