The Mitzvah of Honoring Talmidey Chachamim

The mitzvah of clinging to talmidey chachamim stem from these sources in the Torah.

כ  אֶת-ה' אֱלֹקיךָ תִּירָא, אֹתוֹ תַעֲבֹד; וּבוֹ תִדְבָּק, וּבִשְׁמוֹ תִּשָּׁבֵעַ. 

Devarim 10:20 Hashem, your G-d, your shall fear, Him you shall serve, and through Him you shall cling, and by His Name  you shall swear

כ  לְאַהֲבָה אֶת-ה' אֱלֹקיךָ, לִשְׁמֹעַ בְּקֹלוֹ וּלְדָבְקָה-בוֹ:

Devarim 30:20 To love Hashem your G-d, to listen to His voice and to cling to Him

From the Chofetz Chaim:

The mitzvah of providing a talmid chacham with financial support is an outright mitzvah of the Torah, as Rambam wrote in Hilchos De'os 6:2:

It is a positive Torah precept that we must cling to talmidey chachamim and to their students... Is it really possible for one to attach himself to the Shechinah?  That is why one must strive... to eat and drink with talmidei chachamim, and to engage in business on their behalf, as it says ולדבקה בו -- "and to attach yourself to Him" (Devarim 30:20)

Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 434) likewise noted Chazal's exposition from the words "and to attach yourself to Him": "Cling to chachamim and to their students."  From this verse Chazal further derived: "Whoever marries off his daughter to a talmid chacham and whoever supports a Torah scholar from his property is considered to have attached himself to the Divine Presence." 

Source: Shem Olam, Ch. 15

From Mishpetei HaSholom (The Code of Jewish Conduct, p. 459):

There is a positive mitzvah of the Torah to cling to talmidey chachamim and their talmidim in order to learn from their ways, as the pasuk in Devarim 10:20 and 11:22 say: "Uvo sidbak -- cling to Him (Hashem)."  Chazal ask: "How can we possibly cling to the Shechinah itself?"  When we cling to a talmid chacham, they conclude, it is as if we are clinging to the Shechinah.  

Therefore, we are obligated to take every opportunity to associate ourselves with talmidei chachamim; to marry the daughter of a talmid chacham, to take a talmid chacham as a son-in-law, to eat and drink with talmidei chachamim, to do business with them and on their behalf, and to attach ourselves to them in every possible way.  Chazal tell us (Avos 1:4) to "sit in the dust of their feet and drink in their words thirstily."  We should foster a love for them in our hearts and do whatever is in our power to benefit them in every way, since they are the ones who uphold Torah and serve as the firm foundation for the redemption of the souls of all of Klal Yisrael, and through the conduit of their Torah, we can learn how to follow the ways of Hashem.

We should make every effort to receive talmidei chachamim who arrive in town and to be at their service, since Chazal teach us that serving a talmid chacham --- which enables us to imbibe the talmid chacham's ways -- is even greater than learning Torah from him directly.  For the same reason, we should try to raise our children in the environs of a talmid chacham, so that this will influence their spiritual growth.

Chazal especially praised those who carry on business on behalf of a talmid chacham, investing his money for him so that he can have ready income and be free to study Torah undisturbed. When someone assists a talmid chacham in such a way, it is considered as if he has attached himself to the Shechinah.  Similary, Chazal say that someone who supplies a talmid chacham with profitable merchandise that can provide him with an easy income merits to sit in the "Heavenly Yeshivah" in Olam Haba.

When a person cannot learn on his own -- either because he does not know how to learn or because he is preoccupied with other needs -- but he has the available resources, he should use his money to support others who are learning; it will then be considered as if he himself learned Torah.  We can even draw up an official agreement with a talmid chacham by which we obligate ourselves to provide fully for the talmid chacham while he devotes himself to learning, and he agrees to share the rewards.  This kind of setup is known as the Yissachar-Zevulun arrangement.

This mitzvah applies at all times, in all places, for men and for women, who are commanded to heed the words of chachamim in order to learn to serve Hashem.  Children should be trained in this mitzvah from a young age.  Needless to say, a child should never hear his parents criticizing a talmid chacham; on the contrary, he should absorb his parents' eagerness to come to the aid of talmidei chachamim and drink in their words of wisdom.


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