9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax booth. “Follow me,” he said to him. So he got up and followed him. 10 As Jesus was having a meal in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with Jesus and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 When Jesus heard this he said, “Those who are healthy don’t need a physician, but those who are sick do. 13 Go and learn what this saying means: ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Shimon the Righteous was one of the last surviving members of the Men of the Great Assembly. He would say: The world stands on three things: on the Torah, on the Temple service, and on acts of kindness. On the Torah. How so? It says (Hosea 6:6), “I desire kindness, not a well-being offering (zevach), and the knowledge of God [which comes from studying Torah] more than burnt offerings (olot).” From here we learn that the burnt offering is more beloved than the well-being offering, because the burnt offering is entirely consumed in the fires, as it says (Leviticus 1:9), “The priest shall turn the whole thing into smoke on the altar.” And in another place (I Samuel 7:9), it says, “Samuel took one milking lamb, and offered it to be consumed, as a burnt offering to the Eternal.” And the study of Torah is more beloved before the Omnipresent God than offerings, for if a person studys Torah, he comes to have knowledge of the Omnipresent God, as it says (Proverbs 2:5), “Then you will understand the awe of the Eternal and you will discover the knowledge of God.” From here we learn that when a sage sits and expounds before the congregation, Scripture considers it as if he brought fat and blood upon the altar.If two Torah scholars are sitting and laboring in the Torah, and a bridal or funeral procession passes by, if there are already enough people participating, these two should not leave their studying; but if not, they should get up and offer words of Torah and praise to the bride, or escort the dead.