Bitul Torah

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Not wasting time from learning Torah

  1. Even though one learn one’s daily amount of learning, one isn’t exempt from learning if one has free time. [1]
  2. Wasting time for learning Torah is a grievous sin and there are many punishments mentioned in Chazal for this sin. [2]

Not forgetting Torah

  1. There’s a Mishna (Pirkei Avot 3:8) which says that one who forgets Torah that he learning is responsible for his soul and violates the prohibition of “רק השמר לך ושמר נפשך מאד פן תשכח את הדברים אשר ראו עיניך” (Beware and take caution for your soul very much lest you forget the things which you saw at Har Sinai). However, the Mishna continues that if one learned more than one was able to remember and there’s no prohibition in forgetting. Some understand the prohibition as including someone who was inadvertent and exempts only the true extenuating circumstances. [3]However, others understand that the prohibition only applies to someone who negligent and actively forgot Torah. [4]
  2. The foods that Chazal specify as causing one to forget Torah such as food from which a mouse or cat ate from are permissible to eat, however, it’s preferable not to eat them. However, there’s no issue for a women to eat it. [5]

References

  1. Menachot 99b, Nedardim 8a says that one exempts oneself from Talmud Torah daily with reading Kriyat Shema. However Ran (Nedarim 8a) and Ritva (on Rif Nedarim 8a) say that Kriyat Shema isn’t an exemption except for someone who doesn’t have any more free time because of business. Similarly, Tosfot (Brachot 11b D”H Shekevar) writes that one doesn’t make new Torah Brachot the whole day because one’s mind is on Torah since one’s obligated in it all day. [Bet Yosef 47 uses the reason that one’s obligated all day to explain why there’s no bracha after Brachot HaTorah.] Yet Sh”t Radvaz 3:416 and Rashba (Nedarim 8a) explain the gemara that literally one exempts himself with Shema. Chida in Machzik Bracha 156:1, Mishna Brurah 155:4, and Halacha Brurah 155:2 rule that if one has free time one has an obligation to learn and not doing so would be Bitul Torah.
  2. The commonly quoted Gemara that mentions the severity of the sin of Bitul Torah is Sanhedrin 99a which says that Bitul Torah is considered degrading Hashem’s word. Shabbat 32b says that one’s children die for Bitul Torah. Masechet Kala Rabati 6:4 says that Tzaddikim die because of Bitul Torah (of the generation). Midrash Rabba Eicha 1:20 says that Galut is caused by that sin. Tanit 7b says that for that sin it stops to rain. Someone who is able to learn and doesn't may get the punishment of a physical illness (Brachot 5a) and Hashem cries for him (Chagigah 5b).
  3. Rabbenu Yonah on Pirkei Avot 3:8
  4. Rashbetz in Magan Avot
  5. Sh”t Yabea Omer Y”D 2:8(4). See also S"A HaRav Hilchot Talmud Torah 3:1 in the footnote.