Doreish Tov on Medrash Rabbah
Parashas Haazinu 5769
10:1 The Medrash asks, what is the Halacha regarding a Jew who has a pain in his ear on Shabbos? Can he be healed from his pain on Shabbos? The answer is that the Sages taught that anything that involves even a doubt regarding someone remaining alive supersedes the Shabbos prohibitions. Thus, one who has a pain in his ear, if his life is endangered, he can be healed on Shabbos. The Sages offer a person advice. If you wish to avoid pain in your ear or in any other part of your body, turn your ear to Torah and you will inherit life, as it is said (Yeshaya 55:3) hatu aznichem ulichu eilay shimu isichi nafshichem, incline your ear and come to Me; listen, and your soul will be rejuvenated. Rabbi Chanina bar Pappa said that one who turns his ear from hearing words of Torah, his prayers are despised, as it is said (Mishlei 28:9) meisir azno mishmoa Torah gam tefillaso toeivah, if one turns aside his ear from hearing the Torah, his prayer, too, will be considered an abomination. Rabbi Levi said that the ear is to the body like a sieve-like vessel is to the vessels. Regarding this sieve-like vessel, many vessels can be placed upon it and one places the incense underneath it and all the vessels absorb the smoke. Similarly, a person has two-hundred and forty-eight limbs and they are all sustained through the ear. This is derived from the verse that states shimu isichi nafshichem, listen, and your soul will be rejuvenated. HaShem said, “If you turn your ear to the words of Torah, when you come to commence with words of Torah, all will desire before you and they will hear your words, akin to your hearing words of Torah.” This idea is derived from Moshe Rabbeinu. Moshe turned his ear to words of Torah, so when he came to commence with words of Torah, the upper worlds and the lower world desired to hear his words. This is what is said haazinu hashamayim vadabeira, give ear O heavens, and I will speak.
The lesson of the Medrash is obvious to all who “hear” what the Medrash is saying. In the world of sales it is said that the best salesman is the one who listens the best. The same can be said for everything in life, and Torah incorporates all aspects of life. One who wishes to absorb words of Torah must always be ready to listen to words of Torah. How does this work? The answer to this question can be found in the words of Rashi regarding the verse that states (Devarim11:13) vihayah im shamoa tishmiiu el mitzvosai, it will be that if you hearken to My commandments. Rashi cites the Gemara (Brachos 40a) that comments on the double term of shamoa tishmiiu to mean that if you heard the old, then you will hear the new. The simple explanation of this statement is that if you have heard Torah in the past, then you will continue to hear Torah in the future. In a deeper sense, however, the Medrash is teaching us that listening is not just hearing the words. The word shema also means to gather, as it is said (Shmuel I 15:4) vayishama Shaul es haam, Shaul had all the people summoned. Thus, if one turns his ear to words of Torah, then he is guaranteed that he will hear more words of Torah, and everything that he is engaged in will be a part of Torah. We can now understand why if one turns his ear to Torah, he will be sparing himself any bodily pain. One who is constantly engaged in Torah study has summoned all the forces of the world to be subjugated to the Torah. This idea is further reflected in a verse that states (Shemos 15:26) vayomer im shamoa tishma likol HaShem Elokecha vihayashar bieinav taaseh vihaazanta limitzvosav vishamarta kol chukav kol hamachalah asher samti vimitzrayim lo asim alecha ki ani HaShem rofecha, He said, “If you hearken diligently to the voice of HaShem, your G-d, and do what is just in His eyes, give ear to His commandments and observe all His decrees, then any of the diseases that I placed in Egypt, I will not bring upon you, for I am HaShem, your Healer. This verse clearly informs us that if we are constantly listening to HaShem and giving ear to His commandments, we will be healed.