The Divrei Torah in this section have been translated by Rav Reuven Ungar, Director of Alumni Affairs
Da Ma Lehashiv - Learning Torah
By: Rav Gidon Binyamin
Ram in Yeshivat Sha'alvim and rav of Nof Ayalon, confronts contemporary issues
Question: Why should we learn Torah?
First and foremost, the study of Torah (Limud Torah) constitutes one of the mitzvoth of the Torah. In an early period in our history, the centrality of this mitzvah was mentioned by the prophet Yehoshua: "This Sefer Torah shall not leave abandon your mouths and you will delve into it day and night".
A common misconception perceives learning Torah as merely a means to understand how to perform the mitzvoth. Of course, this is one of the functions of Limud Torah, for an ignorant individual is not a chasid. However, this is only one component of Lumud Torah. In a practical sense it may be the most important one, for one must know how to act- indeed, halachic authorities have ruled that a person who lacks substantial time should concentrate on studying halacha. However, this is not the central element of Limud Torah.
We follow in the steps of HaGaon Rav Chaim from Volozhin as outlined in Nefesh HaChaim (Gate 4) and of the Ba'al HaTanya. The fact that these two "prophets" (who originate in different schools of thought) prophesize in a similar fashion, strengthens the validity of the following concept.
The gemara in Masechet Nedarim quotes Rabi Elazar, the son of Rabi Tzadok: "Perform the items (mitzvoth) for the sake of their Creator, and speak of them for their sake- (aseh devarim leshem pa'alan, vedaber bahen leshman)". The Rosh explains that the mitzvoth must be performed for the sake of Hashem- who created everything ("shepa'al hakol lema'anehu"). The Torah, however, must be st udi ed for the sake of the Torah, to understand and to comprehend, to increase knowledge and pilpul.
The Nefesh HaChaim expounds on the commentary of the Rosh. Mitzvoth are performed for the sake of Hashem; Torah is st udi ed for the sake of the Torah. This is difficult to comprehend; Torah should also be st udi ed for the sake of Hashem, in order to fulfill the mitzvah of Limud Torah. Why does it suffice to study Torah for the purpose of acquiring Torah knowledge?
The resolution to this question lies in the statement of the rabbis of blessed memory (Chazal), that the Torah preceded the world. This concept is not limited to this world of action. Rather, as the Nefesh HaChaim enlightens us, the Torah is the blueprint of all the worlds- spiritual and physical.
We have absolutely no understanding in the essence of Hashem. All our perceptions begin with the will of Hashem; His will is expressed in the spiritual worlds. The spiritual root of the Torah is "located" in the exalted realm that is termed 'the worlds of infinity". Study of Torah unites an individual with the will of Hashem. The Zohar mentions that "the Holy One, Blessed be He, and the Torah are one". Thus, to study Torah is to "cling" to Hashem.
The performance of a particular mitzvah constitutes the fulfillment of a command of Hashem. It the act was not performed "for the sake of Hashem", it does not qualify as a mitzvah- the link to Hashem is not properly activated. However, the act of learning Torah- for the sake of the Torah- connects one "directly" with Hashem, for Hashem and the Torah are one!
This idea is expressed in the Tanya (Chapter 5): "When an individual properly understands a halacha in depth, his intellect grasps this concept and is influenced by it at that time. This halacha is the wisdom and desire of the Holy One, Blessed be He ..the wisdom and will of Hashem (that a person cannot grasp) rests upon him.. this is a wonderful unity that is unparalleled."
May Hashem merit us to attain great achievements in His Torah!
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