Should we stand while learning Torah? The Gemara in Megillah 21a says that people used to always stand while learning (as learning is fundamentally similar to Matan Torah itself). However, after Rabban Gamliel died, people became weak and stopped.
תלמוד בבלי מסכת מגילה דף כא עמוד א
תנו רבנן: מימות משה ועד רבן גמליאל לא היו למדין תורה אלא מעומד, משמת רבן גמליאל ירד חולי לעולם והיו למדין תורה מיושב. והיינו דתנן: משמת רבן גמליאל בטל כבוד תורה. כתוב אחד אומר ואשב בהר, וכתוב אחד אומר ואנכי עמדתי בהר! – אמר רב: עומד ולומד, יושב ושונה. רבי חנינא אמר: לא עומד ולא יושב אלא שוחה. רבי יוחנן אמר: אין ישיבה אלא לשון עכבה, שנאמר ותשבו בקדש ימים רבים. רבא אמר: רכות מעומד, וקשות מיושב.
Does this have any implication nowadays? A quick search of Bar Ilan does not show any poskim taking this Halacha LeMaaseh, (though Rambam mentions the historical point, perhaps implying some normative content). I found one position which should lead to this having Halachic impact.
The Toafot Re’eim (266:1), a commentary on the Yereim, explaining why there was there was no problem for a king to stand during hakhel even though he is not obligated to, relates to this Gemara. He wonders (as did Tiferet Yisrael) why standing here would not qualify someone as a hedyot, based on the Yerushalmi’s position (Berachot 2:9 and elsewhere) that anyone who does something he is exempt from is a hedyot. He cites the Vilna Gaon (Shenot Eliyahu Berachot 1:3) who explains that someone is only criticized for doing something he is not obligated to do if the action is not inherently valuable. However, there are some actions which are fundamentally valuable, essentially mitzvot, but Chazal did not obligate us to do them. However, if someone does do them, as he would be doing something which is a mitzva, he is praised rather than censured. (This can be found in Rishonim before him and Achronim after him as well.) Noting that the Gemara above claims that ideally one should always stand when studying Torah, the Toafot Re’eim argues that standing for hakhel is a mitzva and praiseworthy, even if not required.
This analysis should imply that it would be praiseworthy to stand while learning nowadays. The Gemara later limits this to only the beginning parts of learning and the easy parts – difficult study can be done sitting. Either way, I have never even heard any posek suggest that ideally people should stand when, let’s say, are reviewing the parsha. Anyone have any insight?