Daniel Sperber has just published a new book, On the Relationship of Mitzvot Between Man and His Neighbor and Man and His Maker. The Seforim Blog is happy to present chapter 4 from the book.
Ha-Osek be-Mitzvah Patur min ha-Mitzvah: The Case of Prayer and Torah Study
We find in Sefer ha-Rokeah, section 369 ad fin., that a person who is sitting in the synagogue, wrapped in his talit and with his tefillin on his head and is reciting liturgical songs, must, nonetheless, rise up before his teacher, since he can carry out both actions and he will receive fine rewards in both worlds. Now there are early authorities who hold that the principle that one who is engaged in one mitzvah is exempt from another is also the case when both could be carried out. (See Shulhan Aruch Orah Hayyim 38:8, and in the Beur Halachah, ibid., and also R. Yaakov Hayyim Sofer, Brit Yaakov [Jerusalem: 1985], section 2, 36; R. Ovadiah Yosef, Hazon Ovadiah: Sukkot [Jerusalem: 2005, 167].) The author of the Rokeah, R. Elazar of Germaiza, was a disciple of R. Yehudah (b. R. Shmuel) he-Hasid, the author of Sefer Hasidim. And it is the view of R. Yehudah he-Hasid that even if one can carry out both mitzvot, one is exempt from doing so, if one is engaged in a prior mitzvah; and this, indeed, is the view of R. Elazar Rokeah himself (Rokeah, Hilchot Sukkah, section 299; see Sofer). Why then should one who is engaged in praising the Lord in the synagogue, have to rise up before his teacher? Surely he is already engaged in a mitzvah, and therefore exempt from others! The answer, I suggest, is because ritual synagogue worship is directed towards God, but respect for one’s teacher is a mitzvah between man and his fellow, and he is therefore not exempt from it. So too the Hida, R. Hayyim Yosef David Azulai, rules, that even in the hour of prayer one rises before a Torah scholar, (Birkei Yosef Orah Hayyim, section 244:1; and see Sofer, note 8 on page 37; and see most recently the discussion of R. Yitzchak Eliyahu Stessman, Kimah ve-Hidur [Jerusalem: 2011, 88–91], with additional references).
Indeed, the severity of not rising before one’s teacher is expressed by R. Eleazar in very extreme terms in BT Kiddushin 33b:
Any scholar who does not rise before his teacher is called a wicked person (רשע), and will not live long and will forget his learning.
(See also R. Yaakov Hezkiyahu Fisch, in his Ve-Haarachta Yamim, ed. Y.M. Sofer, [Jerusalem: 2010, 71–72].)
To this we may add what we are told of the Arizal, by his disciple R. Hayyim Vital, that he was very particular in paying his workers exactly on time and without delay. And if he did not have the money with which to pay these wages, he would delay his afternoon prayer (minhah) until close to sunset in order to search out a loan with which to make the payment. Only afterwards would he hurriedly daven minhah. He would explain himself by saying: “How can I pray to the Lord, may He be blessed . . . , when such an important mitzvah is incumbent upon me, and I have not carried it out?” (See R. Hayyim Vital, Shemonah Shearim: Shaar ha-Mitzvot [Jerusalem: 1872], Parshat Tetzeh; Avraham Tobolsky, Hizaharu be-Memon Haverchem, vol. 2, [Bnei Brak: 1981, 211–212].)
In a somewhat different vein, but with much the same principle as its basis, we read in Niflaot Beit Levi, by A. Kleiman (Pietrokov: 1911, 32, [Yiddish]), cited in Louis I. Newman and Samuel Spitz, The Hasidic Anthology: Tales and Teachings of the Hasidim (New York: 1944, 178:2, 480) as follows:
A teamster (=wagon driver) sought the Berditchover’s (Reb Levi Yitchak of Berditchov’s) advice as to whether he should give up his occupation because it interfered with regular attendance at the synagogue.
“Do you carry poor travellers free of charge?” asked the Rabbi. “Yes,” answered the teamster. “Then you serve the Lord in your occupation just as faithfully as you would be frequenting the synagogue.”
(However, see A.Y. Pfoifer, Ishei Yisrael [Jerusalem: 1998, 104, section 11, and notes ad loc].)
And indeed, the Rambam in Hilchot Talmud Torah 3:4, followed by the Shulhan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 246:8, rules:
If there came before him [the choice of performing] a mitzvah and (i.e., or continuing) learning Torah, if that mitzvah could be carried out by another, he should not interrupt his learning; but if not, he should carry out that mitzvah and then return to his study. And when it comes to giving charity, one should always give charity first.
This indeed is the conclusion to be drawn from the sugya in Yerushalmi Pesahim 3:7 (and parallel to JT Hagigah 1:7). There we read that R. Abahu, who lived in Caesarea, sent his son R. Haninah to study in Tiberias, in the Yeshiva of R. Yohanan.
They came and informed him that [his son] was engaged in charitable activities (i.e., in the burial of dead). He sent him a message, saying to him: “Are there no graves in Caesarea that I sent you to Tiberias?” (i.e., for such activities you could have stayed at home).
The Talmud continues that it was already decided at Beit Nitzeh in Lod that “study is greater for it leads to deeds,” (see below). However, the rabbis of Caesarea qualified this by saying:
This is the case when there is someone else to carry out the deeds. But if there is not anyone else to carry them out, the deed comes before [the study], (i.e., has precedence).
We then are told a tale:
R. Hiyya, R. Yosi [and] R. Ami were late coming to R. Eleazar [for their lesson with him]. He asked them, “Where were you?” They replied, “We were involved in charitable activity” (meaning in the burial of someone). “Was there no one else [who could do this?]” he asked of them. They replied, “He was a neighbor [according to the Pnei Moshe, or a proselyte – according to the Korban ha-Edah,” i.e., and there was no one else to deal with his burial.]
Incidentally, we may add here that the interpretation of the Pnei Moshe is supported by a passage in Sefer Haredim, (by R. Eleazar Azikri, [Safed: 1533–1600]), Mitzvot Aseh . . . ha-Teluyot be-Lev 22, which states that:
A person is obligated to act charitably towards his neighbors and his relations more than to other people, as is clearly stated in the Bavli and the Yerushalmi.
(See S. Lieberman, HaYerushalmi Kiphshuto [Jerusalem: 1934, 426] and his other comments.)
And the parallel text in JT Hagigah 1:7., begins with an additional passage, namely:
R. Yehudah, when he would see a dead person (i.e., a burial) or a bride (i.e., a marriage procession), [and people] praising them (i.e., honoring them in the processions), he would turn to his students (נותן עיניו בתלמידים), and say: “The [dealing with] the dead precedes the study of Torah (תלמוד).”
And a somewhat similar notion, but expressed in a Hassidic vein, may be found in a story related in Yehezkel Shraga Fraenkel’s Rabbenu ha-Kaddosh mi-Shinyeve (Ramat Gan: 1992, 256–257). He relates that once the Rabbi of Warsaw came to visit the Divrei Hayyim, R. Hayyim of Sanz. The Sanzer Rebbe asked him, “Do you learn?” “Yes,” the Warsaw Rabbi replied. The Rebbe repeated, “Do you always learn?” The reply was, “When someone who is embittered and needs help comes to me, I close my gemara and deal with him, to help and encourage him.” “This is what I wanted to hear,” said the Sanzer, “whether you have the good sense to close your gemara when someone needs your help, both in word and in deed, and in any case to encourage him and bolster his spirit.”
Here we must make something of a digression, which is not really a digression, as this touches upon a very important point. For the Mishnah in Peah 1:1 states that: “the study of Torah is equal to all of them,” i.e., even to those mitzvot listed in the Mishnah which are social ones, such as honoring one’s parents, doing charitable deeds, bringing peace between rival individuals, etc. The question we ask ourselves is: is the study of Torah (תלמוד תורה) a ritual or a social mitzvah? Into which category does it fall? For if the former, according to our suggestion how can it be superior to those other social mitzvot?
To clarify this issue we must go back to a very ancient discussion that took place in the attic at Beit Nitzeh in Lod, between R. Tarfon and the Elders. For this question was put before them: which is greater, or more important תלמוד או מעשה, learning or deeds? R. Tarfon answered: Deeds are greater. While R. Akiva said study is greater. And they all replied: Study is greater for it leads to deeds (BT Kiddushin 40b). That is to say the importance of study is in that it constitutes the key to the proper execution of the mitzvot. This is also the meaning of R. Shimon the son of Rabban Gamliel’s statement in Avot 1:17: Not the expounding of the law (midrash) is the chief thing, but the doing [of it] (maaseh). And this is amplified by Rabbenu Bachya in his commentary ad loc.: that the aim of man’s labor in Torah is not that he should just learn a lot, but that [his learning] should lead to deeds, as we have learned from the verse [in Deuteronomy 5:1], ‘and ye may learn them [i.e., the statutes and judgments], and keep and do them.’ And this is further amplified in Shulhan Aruch ha-Rav, by R. Shneur Zalman Mi-Ladi, in his Hilchot Talmud Torah 4:2, by telling us that “it is impossible to fulfill all the mitzvot in all their details without intensive study and knowledge of them. And for this reason it is equal to all of them,” i.e., not intrinsically, but as a means to their proper application.
This issue has been analyzed recently by R. Yitzchak Shapiro, in his article in Hakirah 9, (2010), 221–243, entitled “To know the Forbidden and the Permitted: An Analysis of Rambam’s View of the Purpose and Goals of Talmud Study.” He shows that the Rambam’s view, as expressed in his letter to his disciple R. Yosef, is that “learning Torah is a utilitarian endeavor, with extracting halachic conclusions its functional objective” (227). He goes on to show that “the simplicity and obviousness [of this position] might go unnoticed if not for its staggering ramification and total incompatibility with contemporary realities in derech halimud ” (227–228). For as he earlier showed (223–224): “the Aharonim do identify an aspect of Torah study, unrelated to fulfillment of the other mitzvot, based on the verse והגית בו יומם ולילה – ‘but thou shalt meditate therein day and night’ (Joshua 1:8, cf. BT Menachot 99b). This mitzvah of ‘limud ha-Torah’ is distinct from the mitzvah of ‘yediat ha-Torah,’ and can be fulfilled regardless of the subject matter that is learned, whereas the mitzvah of yediat ha-Torah requires a curriculum that is limited to ‘halachah’ (or at least the sharpening of one’s mental acuity, which is necessary for accurate application of halachah). However, one may fulfill both facets of the mitzvah simultaneously only by learning halachic subject matter.”
This is the view of the Meiri, as formulated in his commentary to BT Berachot 7b:
The knowledge of how the Torah actually expresses itself indeed requires serving or observing Torah scholars. While intellectual learning is the cause of wisdom, observing the Sages is the cause of knowing how the Torah manifests itself. This is both true for monetary matters as well as that which is prohibited and permitted.
Hence, we may well understand the statement of Rav in BT Megillah 3b, that Talmud Torah is greater than the sacrifice of the daily offerings (temidin).
Here we may also call attention to R. Meir Triebitz’s insightful analysis (in his introduction to R. Daniel Eidensohn’s Daas Torah: A Jewish Sourcebook [Jerusalem: 2005, 31–35]). He begins by noting that God commands us twice to study Torah: once in Deuteronomy 11:19, and again in Deuteronomy 4:9–11. He analyzes the differences between these two formulations in all their details – e.g., one in the plural and the other in the singular; one talks of teaching, the other telling; one focuses on parents to children, while the other lists three generations. He concludes that “the two verses which obligate us to learn the Torah actually refer to two types of study. One refers to the study of the legal part of Torah, and the other to the study of Torah’s theology. Each form of study is deemed a separate scholarly enterprise.” He characterizes these two forms of study as “legal” (i.e., halachic) study, and “faith” study, which he states “deals primarily with Aggadic parts of the Torah.” But for our purposes it is important to emphasize that both verses, that is to say both classes of study, require the student also to be a teacher, and to pass on his learning to future generations. Hence, Torah study has a social aspect too.
This is a very broad subject that requires a study in its own right, and we cannot enlarge on it here. But what emerges very clearly is that the mitzvah of Torah study is in a very special category, for without it one would not know how to carry out ritual or social mitzvot correctly. Nonetheless, the Or Zarua and the Rav Baal ha-Tanya agree that one interrupts learning Torah to fulfill other mitzvot, if both cannot be carried out at the same time, and one is not exempt because one is already involved in a prior mitzvah.
This is clear from the baraita in BT Ketubot 17a (BT Megillah 3b, 29a) that we interrupt our study of Torah (מבטלין תלמוד תורה) not merely for a met mitzvah and to accompany the dead (הוצאת המת), but also for wedding ceremonies (הכנסת כלה) – all supreme social mitzvot. And in this way, we may better understand the passage in Avot de-R. Natan, chapter 41, (ed. Schechter, Vienna: 1887, 133):
It once happened that R. Tarfon was sitting and teaching his disciples, and a bride went past him. He ordered that she be brought into his house, and told his mother and his wife that they should bathe her, anoint her, and decorate her with jewelry, and dance before her until she goes to her husband’s house.
Apparently, he interrupted his teaching in order to carry out the mitzvah of hachnasat kallah.
And indeed we read in the letters of the Hafetz Hayyim (Michtevei ha-Hafetz Hayyim he-Hadash, vol. 2, Bnei Brak: 1986) II, 86:
You occasionally see a Jew who [in a praiseworthy way] learns Torah [as much as possible] and values his time [not wasting a minute]. But if he does not set aside part of the day to do deeds of kindness, what a lack of intelligence!
And interestingly enough, this also becomes evidence from the commentary of R. David ha-Nagid, the Rambam’s grandson, to Avot 1:15. There Shammai is cited as saying: “Make thy [study of the] Torah a fixed habit (קבע); . . . . And receive all men as its cheerful countenance.” And this is explained by the Nagid to mean that even when you are engaged in your fixed period of Torah study, you should not desist from receiving people cheerfully, thinking that in doing so you are “wasting” Torah-study time. So apparently he regarded proper interpersonal relationship of such importance as even to override one’s involvement in Torah learning. And this presumably goes under the category of kevod ha-beriyot, respect for the individual. (Cf. below, sections 15 and 19.)
We are reminded of the statement of Reb Yisrael of Rizhyn (died 1850), who expounded the verse in Psalms 115:16, “the heavens are the heavens of the Lord; but the earth hath He given to the children of men.”
There are two kinds of tzaddikim. Those of the one sort learn and pray the livelong day and hold themselves far from lowly matters in order to attain holiness. While the others do not think of themselves, but only of delivering the holy sparks which are buried in all things back to God, and they make all lowly things their concern. The former, who are always preparing for Heaven, the verse calls “the heavens,” and they have set themselves apart for the Lord. But the others are the earth given to the children of men.
(Martin Buber, Tales of the Hasidim: The Later Masters,
New York: 1948, 53–54)
New York: 1948, 53–54)
Here, he is contrasting the Lithuanian mitnagdim’s way, (in a double-edged complementary fashion), with that of the Hasidim, while we well know with which way he personally sided.
At the same time we should recollect how Yehudah ha-Levi in his Kuzari, begins his definition of the religious man according to Jewish tradition with the negative statement that “in Jewish opinion, the religious man is not to be defined as one who cuts himself off from the world” (Book III, sect. I, ed. Hirschfeld, Leipzig: 1882, 140–141). Perhaps he was combating predominant contemporary Sufi views on extreme asceticism. (See Franz Rosenthal, “A Judaeo-Arabic Work under Sufic Influence,” HUCA XV 1940, 440, and cf. page 465 for an extreme view of this form of asceticism, and note 104.)
 See Le-Hair Hilchot Tzedakah be-Or Yekarot (Jerusalem: 2010, 6–7). And see below sect. 16 on the overriding importance of charity, and Appendix.
 See, for example, the practice of the Brisker Rav, Reb Hayyim Soloveitchik, as described in Aharon Sorasky, Marbitzei Torah u-Musar bi-Yeshivot Nusah Lita mi-Tekufat Volozin ve-ad Yameinu, vol. 1 (Jerusalem: 1976, 110).
 Cf. BT Shabbat 127a: Said R. Yohanan: Great is the hosting of guests as are those rising up early to the House of Study [of Torah], as we have learned: to make room for guests [to avoid] hindrance in the House of Study. But Rav Dimi of Nehardea said: It is greater than rising up early to the House of Study. For we learned: “for guests,” and only afterwards “to avoid hindrance in the House of Study.” And see below sects. 11 and 12 on hosting guests.
 On this text see Benedict Thomas Viviano, Study as Worship: Aboth and the New Testament (Leiden: 1978, 105–109). Directly related to this is the text in JT Pesahim 3:7, and JT Hagigah 1:7, cited above, from which the Rabbis learned that if others can carry out these charitable activities, a person should not interrupt his Torah studies. And this seems to be the dominant view among the poskim. See further BT Moed Katan 9a; Shulhan Aruch Yoreh Deah 246:18; Meiri to BT Shabbat 9a and Moed Katan ibid.; Rabbenu Yeruham 22a in the name of the Ravad, etc.
See R. Asi ha-Levi Even Yuli, Shulhan Aruch ha-Middot, vol. 2, Halachah u-Musar (Jerusalem: 2009, 243–244).
 See R. Mordechai Shmuel Ashkenazi’s magnificent commentary to Hilchot Talmud Torah Mi-Shulhan Aruch Admor ha-Zaken, vol. 5 [= ha-Rav] (Kefar Habad: 2000, 86).
 Ed. Y. Shilat, Iggrot ha-Rambam, vol. 1 (Jerusalem: 1987, 254–259); and see editor’s note on 257–258 to line 4).
 At the simplest level, there is, in the Rambam’s view, an obligation upon one who has learned Torah, also to teach it to others. See Hilchot Talmud Torah 1:2, and so too in the listing of the positive commandments at the beginning of his Mishneh Torah, no. 11. (This list is also that of the Rambam, as attested by the author of the Magid Mishneh in his introduction to Hilchot Eruvin, and the Kesef Mishneh in Hilchot Hannukah 3:6; Responsa Noda bi-Yehudah Kama, Orah Hayyim, sect. 29; Petah ha-Dvir, vol. 2, sect. 194, subsect. A. See R. Yaakov Hayyim Sofer, Drupteki de-Oraita, vol. 1 [Jerusalem: 1987, 45]. And see further his remarks, 68–69, on the need to teach others.) Of related interest is the article of Sarah Pessin, “Maimonides and the Sacred Art of Teaching,” apud Adaptations and Innovations: Studies in the Interaction between Jewish and Islamic Thought and Literature from the Early Middle Ages to the Late Twentieth Century, Dedicated to Professor Joel Kraemer, ed. Y. Tzvi Langermann (Paris & Louvin: 2007, 285–298). See also, most recently, the remarks of R. Aharon Lichtenstein, in H. Sabato and A. Lichtenstein, Mevakshei Panecha (Tel Aviv: 2011, 212–215).
 See the material R. Yitzchak Shapiro brings from the letters of R. Yisrael Salanter (no. 27), in this regard. See also Kuntres Aharon shel Shulhan Aruch ha-Rav, Talmud Torah 3:1, ed. Y.A. Lev (Ashdod: 1989, 39 et seq.).
And see R. Aharon Lichtenstein’s very comprehensive study entitled “Does Involvement in Torah Study Exempt One from Mitzvot?”, which appeared in Alei Etzion 16 (5769 ), 71–107, which examines this issue in depth, dealing with questions of delaying procreation, Megillah reading, prayer, all mitzvot, etc., and seeks to explain Rambam’s position that “ha-osek be-mitzvah patur min ha-mitzvah” theoretically applies to Torah study too, when “it is studied with the purpose of performing” (91); and cf. ibid., 105, for his suggestive interpretation of the view of the Maharach Or Zarua. His study of this very complex issue is extremely rich and requires intense study.
See also Moshe Zvi Polin, Sefer ha-Mitzpeh al ha-Rambam, vol. 1, (on Hilchot Talmud Torah) (Jerusalem: 2005, 11–26), that studying (lilmod ) and teaching (lelamed ) are two interconnected mitzvot. See Ramban Hilchot Talmud Torah 1:1; Hilchot Hagigah 3:1: that anyone who is obligated to study is obligated to teach, and cf. ibid., 1:4. I think this is the meaning of the statement in Seder Eliyahu Rabba, ed. Friedman, p. 63 =Tanna Debe Eliyahu, transl. W.G. Braude & I.J. Kapstein (JPS, 1981, 183) that “one who toils in Torah is like a lamp which provides light for the eyes of many.” And in this connection, it is also worth reading Benjamin Blech’s article “Personal Growth or Communal Responsibility: A Question of Priorities,” The Torah U-Madda Journal 2 (1990), 134–142. However, to give a slightly different point of view, see Hatam Sofer to Nedarim 81a; R. Hayyim Volozin’s Nefesh ha-Hayyim, Shaar Dalet, sect. 3; Ruah Hayyim to Avot 6:1, and the introduction to Eglei Tal.
A very extreme expression of this view is to be found in R. David Baharan’s “Hanhagot u-Piskei Halachah,” in Otzrot Yerushalayim, vol. 13 (Jerusalem: [2010?]), 40, where he insists one must learn halachah every day, and it is not sufficient to learn merely Gemara. He goes on to say that one must learn Shulhan Aruch Orah Hayyim or Hayyei Adam, and he who does not do so will surely have no part in the World to Come. (See also ibid., 41–42.)
See further R.S.Z. Auerbach, Halichot Shlomo . . . al Moadei ha-Shanah, ed. Y. Terner and A. Auerbach (Jerusalem: 2007), 537–539, who also is of the opinion that there are two aspects to Torah study: the one being to study in order to learn how to act properly, and the other as an independent positive commandment which is not just in order to know how to act, but the actual practice of learning as an end in its own right. He expands on this position bringing biblical and rabbinic sources to bear out this point of view. However, here too he agrees that ultimately this is in order “to purify his body through the light of Torah, in order to cleave to God . . . who orders the world (àùø äìéëåú òåìí ìå), and without which the world cannot subsist (åáìà ÷éåîí – àéï î÷åí ÷éåí ìòåìí)” so that in the final reckoning this non-action-orientated study is nonetheless direct to úé÷åï òåìí, the betterment of our world, (see ibid., 536).
 See Kuntres Aharon ibid., in the editor’s Midrashei ha-Kuntres, 36; and also Kuntres Aharon, Talmud Torah 4:3, that one interrupts learning for persuading others to give charity, where others are less persuasive, or helping in burying the dead, etc. See R. Mordechai Shmuel Ashkenazi, ibid., 87 et seq.
See further R. Ovadiah Yosef, Hazon Ovadiah: Sukkot (Jerusalem: 2005, 168), on the special status of Talmud Torah, because it is mandated at all times (îöåä úîéãéú), and, hence, cannot exempt from other mitzvot, as this would free us from all other mitzvot (citing the Birkei Yosef of the Hida 38:7).
This subject has most recently been examined in considerable detail, with a wealth of sources, by R. Asi ha-Levi Even Yuli, in his Shulhan Aruch ha-Middot, vol. 2, Halachah ve-Musar (Jerusalem: 2009, 243–247). He shows that there are two opposing views. For the Yosef Omez, by R. Yosef Juspa Kahn Neurelingen (c. 1639), (Frankfurt am Main: 1908, [reprint, Jerusalem: 1965] 316), writes that the Rabbis said: Anyone who is involved in Torah learning and not in gemilut hasadim, acts of charity, is as one who has no God. And therefore he wrote that a Torah scholar should make sure that every day he should carry out one act of charity. And the Seder ha-Yom (by R. Moshe ibn Machir [Venice: 1599], and numerous editions) wrote that one must not interrupt the learning of Torah for any mitzvah which can be carried out by another, with the exception of acts of charity. And therefore the enthusiastic should take this to heart and pursue acts of charity as one pursues life itself. (And see the continuation of this passage.) Even Yuli further refers us to Responsa Aderet Tiferet (by R. Avraham Dori, vol. 4, sect. 44), who following on the words of the Seder ha-Yom seeks to find additional support for this view in the Rambam, citing the gemarot in BT Megillah 3b, 29a; BT Ketubot 17a as further proof, in that one interrupts Torah learning to accompany the dead to his final resting place. (See below on this subject.) He then refers us to the Sdei Hemed to which we referred earlier on. However, this runs counter to the prevailing majority view found in a multitude of rabbinic sources, to which he referred on 243–244, and therefore very convincingly he rejects and refutes this argument on 246–247. See there in detail. However, the above just underscores what we have tried to point out, namely the complex ambiguity of the status of Torah study.
 See Rema, Even ha-Ezer 65:1; Ba”h ibid., that even the leading Torah authority, Gedol ha-Dor, does so. And even public learning is so interrupted, (Pnei Yehoshua to BT Ketubot ibid., on the basis of Tosafot Megillah ibid.). However, see D. Friedman, Piskei Halachot, vol. 3 (Warsaw: 1901, 35), argues that nowadays, that we are not intimately acquainted with the laws and our studies are directed to their correct understanding, therefore, we do not interrupt Torah learning for wedding ceremonies. See, in detail, on all the rules related to this subject, B. Adler, Ha-Nisuim ke-Hilchatam, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (Jerusalem: 1985, 394–395).
Clearly hachnasat kallah is related to the mitzvah of procreation, which is one of the paramount duties of a man, in Jewish halachic thought. See my Netivot Pesikah (Jerusalem: 2008, 162–163, n. 251). (And cf. below, sect. 30.)
Here we may add that a communal positive mitzvah always takes precedence and outweighs a private individual’s positive mitzvah. A teacher sitting shiva is forbidden to learn and teach Torah. However, he is permitted to do so if the community needs him (Shulhan Aruch Yoreh Deah 384:1). See Tzvi Marx, Halakha and Handicap (Jerusalem: 1992–1993, 228).
 See Schechter’s note in his edition of Avot de-R. Natan, n. 24, and p. 131, n. 10.
 Midrash R. David ha-Nagid to Avot, ed. BenTziyyon Kipnis (Jerusalem: 1944). The Arabic original appeared in Na Amon 1901. However, there are some doubts as to the attribution of authorship. See Milhamot Ha-Shem by R. Avraham ben ha-Rambam, ed. M. Margaliot (Jerusalem: 1953, 38, n. 8); A. Katz, JQR 48 (1957), 140–160; Midrash R. David ha-Nagid to Genesis, ed. A. Katz (Jerusalem: 1964, 16–18). On R. David ha-Nagid himself, see A. Strauss (Ashtor), Toldot ha-Yehudim be-Mitzrayim ve-Suriah tahat Shilton ha-Mamelukim, vol. 1 (Jerusalem: 1944, 117–128).