Rosh Hashana 23 - 28
“One who learns Torah and doesn’t teach it is like a myrtle in the desert; others say that one who learns Torah and teaches it in a place without Torah scholars is like a myrtle in the desert, which is dear.”
Rabbi Yochanan bases this statement of the importance of teaching Torah on a verse in the Prophet Yeshayahu. The first statement refers to one who learns Torah and is compared to a good fragrance (as in the Midrash about the Four Species on Succot), but since he doesn’t share his Torah knowledge he is like a fragrant myrtle in a desert with no one else around to benefit. The second statement refers to a person who shares his Torah with others in a place where there are no other scholars normally found. He is like a lone myrtle in the desert that is very greatly appreciated. Since this person is learning and teaching in a “deserted” place, he is also appreciated and valued greater than he would be in a populated city, just as the lovely fragrance of a myrtle is more outstanding in the barren desert. (Maharsha)
- Rosh Hashana 23a
“Like which opinion do we pray nowadays (on Rosh Hashana): This is the day of the beginning of Your deeds, a reminder of the first day? Like whom? Like Rabbi Eliezer who said that the world was created in Tishrei.”
This statement in the gemara on our daf teaches that we say this prayer on Rosh Hashana according to the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer that the world was created in Tishrei, and not like the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua that it was created in Nissan. The Maharsha points out that the creation of the world actually began on Elul 25, and the sixth day of Creation when Man was created was on the 1st of Tishrei (according to this opinion). The prayer refers to Rosh Hashana as “the beginning of Your deeds” since Man was the purpose and fundamental reason of Creation, and it is as if nothing else was really created before Man.
- Rosh Hashana 27a