In which is explained: - the reason why the number of years of Adam HaRishon's life were a thousand years.
The gemora in Bava Metzia 109b writes that there was a certain planter of vineyards, who said to his employer, the owner of the vineyard, to give him the value of the improvements that he had made in the vineyard, because he wanted to go to Eretz Yisrael. They came before Rav Poppa bar Shmuel, who (after some challenges to his ruling) said: I meant that he should give him a quarter of the value of the improvements.
The gemora continues that Rav Ashi thought to explain that a quarter really means a sixth. Rav Acha said to him: But let the planter say to the owner...and if so, he should actually give him a quarter. Rav Ashi replied to him: When you reach "The Slaughtering of Sanctified Animals", come and ask me your question. Rashi explained that he was saying to him that when he reaches Masechta Zevachim, he will concern himself to answer his challenge.
Rav Ashi's reply is astonishing - why should he delay answering until he reaches Masechta Zevachim? (A brief summary of the gemora will be useful in understanding this Dvar Torah - a planter, in this case one who is employed to plant and care for a vineyard, is entitled to receive a half share of all the improvements of the vineyard, which are the value of the vines, and the produce of the vines. However, this is only true as long as he continues to work there. But when he leaves, the amount he receives must be calculated in such a way that the owner of the land does not lose from his half share. Rav Poppa ruled that this comes out to be a quarter of the value of the improvements. Subsequently, there was a dispute between later Amoraim as to whether he meant an actual quarter, or whether he merely meant less than a half, and it is actually a sixth.)
In order to answer this, we will start by noting that Adam HaRishon was placed by Hashem in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and to guard it. If so, he had the job of the planter of the world. But due to his sin, he was removed prematurely from the world, which, as the gemora says, has a duration of six thousand years. It seems to me, that therefore the life of Adam HaRishon was a thousand years, (together with the seventy years which he left for Dovid HaMelech), which is a sixth of the years of the world, which is the opinion of Rav Ashi.
But according to the opinion of Rav Acha, who challenged Rav Ashi, and held that the planter deserved a quarter, Adam HaRishon should have lived a further five hundred years. Those five hundred years were the years of the lives of Avrohom, Yitzchok and Ya'akov, who were a rectification for Adam HaRishon.
And it seems to me that this is what these Amoraim are arguing about. That Rav Ashi, who held that a planter who leaves his work prematurely receives a sixth, learned this ruling from Adam HaRishon who also had this judgement, living a thousand years which is a sixth of the life of the world. And he held that the five hundred years of the lives of the forefathers (the Avos) were lived independently of Adam HaRishon, because they were not a rectification for him. This is in accordance with the writings of the Arizal, that the one who is rectifying must be superior to the one who is being rectified, and he held that Adam HaRishon was superior to the Avos, as we will explain. If so, we cannot combine his years together with their years, and so the years of Adam HaRishon's life were only a thousand years, which is a sixth.
And Rav Acha, who held that a planter receives a quarter, also held that we learn this from Adam HaRishon, except that he held that the Avos were superior to Adam HaRishon, and therefore were fitting to be a rectification for him. Thus, we can combine all their years together for a total of one thousand five hundred years, which is a quarter of the six thousand years of the world. From this he learned that a planter who leaves his work prematurely receives a quarter.
So we see that the main dispute between Rav Ashi and Rav Acha is whether Adam HaRishon was superior to the Avos, or the reverse. And it seems to me, that this is because they disagree about whether a Torah scholar is superior to a Kohen who is an ignoramus, or vice versa. And although Adam HaRishon was a Kohen Gadol, as it says in the Midrash, it is also stated in the Yalkut on parshas Bechukosai: If Adam HaRishon had learned Torah he would not have died, and thus we see that he was also an ignoramus. About the Avos, however, it says in Masechta Yoma, that for all the days of their lives, Torah Academies never ceased from them. Thus we see that the Avos were Torah scholars.
Now, the sefer Bircas Shmuel in parshas Mishpotim explained the juxtaposition of the Mishnah at the end of seder Nezikin - which teaches that a person of illegitimate birth who is a Torah scholar takes precedence over a Kohen Gadol who is an ignoramus, to the Mishnah at the beginning of seder Kodashim - which teaches that if a Kohen offers a sacrifice not for its own sake, it is valid, but it does not count for the owner of the sacrifice to fulfil his obligation, and he has to bring another. He writes that this is to teach us the reason why a Torah scholar is superior to a Kohen Gadol who is an ignoramus, because a person cannnot fulfil his obligation to bring a sacrifice if the Kohen offers it not for its own sake, whereas Torah can be learned even if the learning is not for its own sake. This proves that one who learns Torah is greater than a Kohen Gadol who offers sacrifices.
Now we can understand the gemora: Rav Acha challenged Rav Ashi, and said that the planter should receive a quarter, because this is what we learn from Adam HaRishon who was given a quarter in combination with the Avos - since Rav Acha holds that a Torah scholar is superior to a Kohen Gadol who is an ignoramus, and thus the Avos were superior to Adam HaRishon, therefore they were fitting to be a rectification for him, and so we can combine all their years.
And Rav Ashi answered him in the way that the sages spoke, with wisdom and erudition: When you reach the slaughtering of the sacrifices, come and ask me your question, and I will concern myself to answer it. He was saying: Until you reach Masechta Zevachim I don't need to concern myself as to how I can answer your challenge, because I can easily deflect it by saying that a Kohen Gadol, even though he is an ignoramus, is superior to a Torah scholar. But when you reach Masechta Zevachim, and will need to explain its juxtaposition to the last Mishnah in seder Nezikin, and you will say that it proves that a Torah scholar is superior to a Kohen Gadol who is an ignoramus, then I will have no choice but to concern myself in answering your challenge.
And according to this, it seems to me that the two posukim in Mishlei (3,15-16) are appropriately placed together: "It (the Torah) is more precious than pearls, and all your desirable things cannot be compared to it. Length of days is in its right hand; in its left hand are riches and honour". Because from the first posuk the gemora learns that a Torah scholar is superior to a Kohen Gadol who is an ignoramus. And from the second posuk the gemora learns that even one who learns Torah not for its own sake receives reward - riches and honour. Thus the second posuk explains the reason why a Torah scholar is superior - because even learning not for its own sake is effectual, which is not true by sacrifices.