Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Should I aspire to be a plastered cistern or an ever-flowing spring?

From Pirkei Avot:
חמישה תלמידים היו לו, לרבן יוחנן בן זכאי; ואלו הן--רבי אליעזר בן הורקנוס, ורבי יהושוע בן חנניה, ורבי יוסי הכוהן, ורבי שמעון בן נתנאל, ורבי אלעזר בן ערך. הוא היה מונה שבחן: רבי אליעזר בן הורקנוס, בור סיד שאינו מאבד טיפה; יהושוע בן חנניה, אשרי יולדתו; יוסי הכוהן, חסיד; שמעון בן נתנאל, ירא חטא; אלעזר בן ערך, מעיין המתגבר.

He {Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai} used to say their praise: Eliezer ben Hyrcanus is a plastered cistern which does not lose a drop; Joshua ben Chananiah -- happy is she that gave birth to him; Yosi the Priest is a saintly man; Shimon ben Natanel is fearful of sin; Elazar ben Arach is an ever-flowing spring.
בור סיד שאינו מאבד טיפה, a plastered cistern which does not lose a drop, is one who turns his focus to recalling Torah traditions and having them all at the ready. Meanwhile, a מעיין המתגבר, an ever-flowing spring, is someone with creative energy who is always producing new chiddushim.

Of course, I am neither, but can aspire to be one or the other, or lean towards the one or the other. Alfasi, my other blog, is a Rif Yomi blog, where I simply translate and offer brief commentary on Rif for daf Yomi. Knowledge of existing sources, and of how Rif understood the gemara, how he paskened, and why, is an important aim, and is the plastered cistern goal. On the other hand, this blog, parshablog, is where I concentrate my creative juices, and it the ever-flowing spring goal. On the third hand, how can one create, or create legitimately, without having a breadth of knowledge of source material from which to work?

And there is presumably an optimal balance for me, but the pace is of course set by Daf Yomi. That is why posting here on parshablog has been non-existent the past few days. Oh well.

On an unrelated note (except of course as it causes distraction from other endeavors), here is how you declare and use row and column labels in Excel.

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