THE EXPENSIVE GEMARAS

By Rabbi Yitzi Weiner
This week’s Torah portion Bamidbar, begins the discussion of the travels of our forefathers in the desert. Our sages teach that the Torah was given in the midbar, the desert, because a person has to make himself like a desert in order to absorb Torah. One explanation for this is that a desert knows that it is lacking and seeks to be cultivated. A person can only learn once they have the humility to acknowledge that they have more to learn.
This brings us to the following interesting story.
There was once a group of men who got together daily for a Daf Yomi shiur at their local shul. The group was diverse, including people of different economic backgrounds. The group had a long standing policy that whenever they were ready to begin a new masechta, one man would purchase new Gemaras for the entire group. There was a rotation, in an attempt to be fair to everyone.
Inevitably, those individuals who were wealthier would purchase full featured, expensive Gemaras, like an Artscroll or Mesivta gemara.These gemaras were more expensive but they truly made the learning experience more rich and productive. People had much more material to learn and discuss. People who had less means would buy simple gemaras which had much less sophisticated features than the expensive ones. Whenever someone sponsored the gemaras that had many more commentaries everyone got excited. But when others bought the basic gemaras some people would grumble and complain.  This sometimes led to the purchaser  feeling bad, or inadequate.
The Rav who led the group had the following question. Should  he change the policy and  decide that everyone should purchase the basic Gemara? This way no one would be comparing, feeling bad, or feel embarrassed. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to sacrifice on the level of learning to prevent any misgivings.
But on the other hand the learning was truly enhanced when the expensive gamaras were bought. There was a marked decrease in the quality of learning when the basic gemaras were bought. Perhaps it would be better to allow those who could afford it to continue to purchase the expensive Gemaras, so that everyone could learn well whenever possible.
What would you answer?
see Veharev Na Volume Three page 451
For the answer to our DOUBLE LANGUAGE RESTAURANT MENU dilemma, please see the Parsha thought.
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