Let’s say someone is sick. Laryngitis. Hardly able to speak. He’s able to go to learn, but it’s extremely difficult and painful. If he goes, he will learn poorly because of his condition, and he will continue learning poorly throughout the week as a result of not resting his throat. Or, he can miss one day, rest up, and feel good as new the next day, to learn well for the remainder of the week. Which is better? Is it better to learn even though it’s difficult and a lower quality, or is it better to miss one day in order to learn more easily and better the other six?

I ask both in terms of schar (if we even know), and in terms of practicality.

  • I’m not sure that this is limited to a case of a sick person, but this is a more common case and so I thought to ask it in this example. – DonielF Jun 29 '18 at 22:54
  • 2
    אחד המרבה ואחד הממעיט ובלבד שיכוון לבו לשמים – Joel K Jun 30 '18 at 19:33
  • שאין אתה יודע מתן שכרן של מצוות – Al Berko Jun 30 '18 at 21:14
  • לפום צערא אגרא? – Al Berko Jun 30 '18 at 21:17
  • נושאי המיטה, חילופיהם וחילופי חילופיהם פטורים... – Al Berko Jun 30 '18 at 21:18

See Menachos 99b

ביטולה של תורה זהו יסודה דכתיב (שמות לד, א) אשר שברת אמר לו הקב"ה למשה יישר כחך ששברת

The apparent dereliction of the study of Torah is its foundation, e.g., if one breaks off his studies in order to participate in a funeral or a wedding procession. This is derived from a verse, as it is written: “And the Lord said to Moses: Hew for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write upon the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which [asher] you broke” (Exodus 34:1). The word “asher” is an allusion to the fact that that the Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Moses: Your strength is true [yishar koḥakha] in that you broke the tablets, as the breaking of the first tablets led to the foundation of the Torah through the giving of the second tablets.

From this we learn that sometimes breaking off from the study of Torah for the purpose of improved learning in the future, is considered a fundamental part of Torah learning itself.

Regarding the Schar (reward) see Rashi (ibid):

שביטולה של תורה - כגון שמבטל תורה להוצאת המת ולהכנסת כלה זהו יסודה כלומר מקבל שכר כאילו יושב ומייסדה ועוסק בה שנאמר אשר שברת ולא אמר ליה בלשון כעס שמע מינה הסכימה עמו דעת השכינה כשביטל תורה ושיברן כיון דנתכוין לטובה:

For the withdrawal of Torah - for example one who withdraws from learning Torah to escort the deceased and for ushering in the bride this is the foundation of Torah meaning to say he receives reward as if he is sitting and learning as it says that you have broken and it does not say it with anger implicating that G-d agreed with his action when he eliminated Torah when breaking the tablets since he intended for the good:

So not only is there no problem with doing so, but even during the time when he is not learning he receives reward as if he is sitting and learning

  • I see Rashi discusses a case of הוצאת המת and הכנסת כלה - why do you assume this applies for learning as well? Maybe when it comes to learning one should push ahead anyway rather than rest up one day and continue the next. – DonielF Jul 2 '18 at 2:57
  • @DonielF because ביטולה is referring to ביטול תורה, which is what your question was about. – RibbisRabbiAndMore Jul 2 '18 at 10:06
  • Then why does Rashi limit the case to הכנסת כלה והוצאת המת? – DonielF Jul 2 '18 at 11:35
  • @DonielF You asked " why do you assume this applies for learning as well?" Rashi is giving an example as to why the person is not learning, but it is still a question of Bitul Torah , so Rashi also is saying that "this applies for learning" - not "as well" but that is the whole question! – RibbisRabbiAndMore Jul 2 '18 at 12:09
  • But the examples Rashi brings are ones where a person is obligated to stop learning (Megillah 28a). You can’t bring a proof from there that to stop learning for learning’s sake is also okay - you’d need to prove from elsewhere that it’s also an obligation, or at least permissible, before you can apply that Rashi. – DonielF Jul 2 '18 at 17:01

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