94. Torah and Work

Talmud Torah 3:9

Words of Torah are compared to water, as per Isaiah 55:1, “Behold, let all who are thirsty come to the water.” This teaches us that just as water does not gather on a slope, rather it flows down and gathers in a low place, words of Torah likewise will not be found among arrogant and haughty individuals, but among the lowly and humble, who sit in the dust at the feet of the Sages and divest their desires and temporal pleasures from their hearts. Such people only work enough each day to support themselves; the rest of their time is occupied with Torah study.

Talmud Torah 3:10

If a person decides to occupy himself exclusively with Torah study and to support himself on charity, he desecrates God’s Name, disgraces the Torah, dims the light of our religion, brings evil upon himself, and forfeits his share in the Next World because it is prohibited for one to derive benefit from words of Torah. The Sages said that one who benefits from words of Torah forfeits his share in the Next World. They also, said not to use words of Torah as a crown to make oneself look important, nor as an axe to chop. Rather, they said to love work and to despise holding positions of rabbinic authority. Any Torah study that is not accompanied by work will ultimately be nullified and lead to sin. Such a person will eventually come to steal from others.