11 Studying The Torah

Mitzvah 11 Studying The Torah

 Eleventh Command: Studying the Torah

And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6.7

Rabbi Meir would say: Whoever studies Torah for Torah’s sake alone, merits many things; furthermore [the creation of] the entire world is worthwhile for his sake. He is called friend, beloved, lover of G‑d, lover of humanity, makes Hashem happy, humanity happy. The Torah clothes him with humility and awe; makes him fit to be righteous, pious, correct and faithful; distances him from sin and brings him close to merit. From him, people enjoy counsel and wisdom, understanding and power, as is stated Mishlei (Proverbs) 8.14: Mine are counsel and wisdom, I am the essence of understanding, and mine is power. The Torah Grants him sovereignty, dominion, and jurisprudence. The Torah’s Secrets are revealed to him, and he becomes as an ever-increasing wellspring and as an unceasing river. He becomes modest, patient and forgiving of insults. The Torah uplifts him and makes him greater than all creations.Mishneh Torah Sefer Kinyan (The Laws of Acquisition) 6.1 Pirkei Avot 6

 A passage in Berakhot (17a) serves as a source for the utilitarian approach to 

Torah Lishmah:

Rava was wont to say: The purpose of wisdom is repentance and good deeds – so that a person should not read Scripture and study, and then defy his father, his mother, his rabbi, and those greater than him in wisdom and numbers, as it says, The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the L-rd; all who practice it gain good understanding Tehillim (Psalms) 111.10It does not say, those who practice, but rather those who practice it those who practice for it’s (The Torah’s) sake, and not those who practice not for it’s (The Torah’s) sake.  And whoever practices not for it’s (The Torah’s)  sake – it would have been preferable for him not to have been created.

Thus, you will forfeit two worlds for when a person is occupied in this world with sickness, war, and hunger, he cannot involve himself with either wisdom or mitzvot which allow him to merit the life of the world to come.

For these reasons, all Israel, [in particular,] their Prophets and their Sages, have yearned for the Messianic age so they can rest from the [oppression of] the gentile kingdoms who do not allow them to occupy themselves with Torah and Mitzvot properly. They will find rest and increase their knowledge in order to merit the world to come. Hilchot Teshuvah 9.1-2

Happy are Israel, who attain all, for they attain Torah!  For whoever attains Torah attains the Holy Name.  Happy are Israel in this world and in the world that is coming! 

Attains the Holy Name… Because the entire Torah represents one continuous Name Of G-d Zohar 153a Pritzker Edition

Surely of The Torah, which as it is written, Then I [The Torah] was by Him, as a nursling, and I was His delight day after day Mishlei (Proverbs) 8.30; now the day of the L-rd is a thousand years, as it is said For a thousand years in Your Sight are but as yesterday when it is past.  That is the meaning of Knowest thou this of old time?  The Torah knows what was before the creation of the world……. Tehillim (Psalms) 90.4.  Bereisheit Rabba 8.2

The Holy One, Blessed be He, Gave the Torah to Israel and said to them:  You are taking Me, as it were! Shemot Rabbah 33.6

Where did the Torah originate from?

Two types of answers are possible.  The first will locate the origin of Torah somewhere in the long chain of emanations whereby G-d’s Will is realized:  The Four Worlds, each composed of Ten Sephirot which mediate between G-d and His Infinitude and mortal man and his physical universe.  In this case Torah shares with the rest of creation, to a greater or lesser degree, the nature of a disguise in which G-d Appears in the world.  The second answer will ascribe the origin of Torah to G-d before the emanative processes began.  In this case, Torah is a direct Facet of G-d, and in it and through it one can experience G-d’s Presence immediately and without interference.  Torah is then, in a sense, part of G-d Himself rather than the product of His Will after the beginning of the evolutionary process whereby G-d Turned outwards and, in successive waves of decreasing spirituality, brought the world into being. 

Clearly, the second is the superior origin.

Torah Lishmah  Torah For Torah’s Sake  In the works of Rabbi Hayyim of Volozhin and his contemporaries  Norman Lamm  KTAV Publishing House Hoboken, New Jersey

And during the involvement with and concentrated study of Torah, it’s certain that there’s no need then for the matter of attachment at all, as discussed previously. For via the involvement and concentrated study themselves is he attached to His (Blessed be He) Will and Words, and He (Blessed be He) and His Will are identical. This is the difference between the involvement with Torah and the performance of other mitzvot. The involvement with mitzvot ideally requires attachment (d’veikut), while involvement with Torah is itself attachment—no special intention or attention is necessary to achieve attachment.

And this is the matter of their (OBM) statement in Sh’mote Rabbah (parshah 33.6): A person removes a purchase… [from the marketplace], out of concern that its original owner will reclaim it; in contrast, the Holy One (blessed be He) Gave the Torah to Israel and says to them: It’s as if it is Me you are taking… And this is what is written in a few places in the Zohar, that the Holy One (Blessed be He) and the Torah are identical. Here Rav Chayyim introduces a primary theme, based on the Zohar, that the Holy One (Blessed be He) and the Torah are to be considered as identical—that G-d and the Torah are ONE..Nefesh HaChayim, Gate IV 10

Solomon spoke to us of the Torah.  To seek wisdom is to seek Torah.

6 Hearken for I will speak noble things, and the opening of my lips shall be right things.

7 For my palate shall utter truth, and wickedness is an abomination of my lips.

8 All the sayings of my lips are with righteousness; there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.

9 They are all true to the understanding one, and straight to those who find knowledge.

10Take my discipline and not silver; knowledge is chosen above gold.

11For wisdom is better than pearls; all desirable things cannot be compared to it.

Mishlei (Proverbs) 8.6-11

Six Parts of Torah.  According to the Vilna Gaon, verses 6-11 allude to six different parts of Torah: Scripture, Mishnah, Gemara, Midrash, Aggadah and Sod. 

Verse 6 refers to Scripture…

Verse 7 which speaks of truth, refers to Mishnah,…..

Verse 8 refers to Gemara….

Verse 9 refers to Midrashic literature…

Verse 10 refers to the part of the Aggadah that teaches mussar….

Verse 11 refers to the part of the Aggadah that is known as Sod…  Artscroll Tanach Series Mishlei  Mesorah Publications Ltd  page 146, 147

22The L-rd Acquired me ( The Torah ) at the beginning of His Way, before His Works of old.

The L-rd Acquired me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old.

HaShem Made me at the beginning of His Way.  G-d Created the Torah before He Created the world…..Torah served as a blueprint for the entire creation….

Before His Deeds of old.  The Talmud (Pesachim 54a) teaches that seven things antedated Creation:  Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden, Gehinnom, the Throne of Glory, the Holy Temple and the name of the Messiah.  Our verse, Hashem Made me at the beginning of His Way, is cited to prove that the Torah preceded the Creation.  Artscroll Tanach Seried Mishlei  Mesorah Publications Ltd  page 153-154

Five possessions did the Holy Blessed One, set aside as his own in this world, and these are they:

  1. The Torah, one possession;
  2. Heaven and earth, another possession;
  3. Abraham, another possession;
  4. Israel, another possession;
  5. The Temple, another possession.

The Torah is one possession. From where do we know this? Since it is written, The L-rd Possessed (usually translated as created) me at the beginning of his course, at the first of His Works of old Mishlei (Proverbs 8:22)

Heaven and earth, another possession. From where do we know this? Since it is said: Thus Said the L-rd: The heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool; Where could you build a house for Me, What place could serve as My abode? (Isaiah 66:1) And it says: How many are the things You have Made, O L-rd; You have Made them all with wisdom; the earth is full of Your Possessions Tehillim (Psalms) 104:24

Abraham is another possession. From where do we know this? Since it is written: He Blessed him, saying, Blessed by Abram of G-d Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth Bereishit (Genesis 15:19).  

Israel is another possession. From where do we know this? Since it is written: Till Your people cross over, O L-rd, Till Your people whom You have Possessed Shemot (Exodus 15:16). And it says: As to the holy and mighty ones that are in the land, My whole Desire (possession) is in them Tehillim (Psalms 16:3).

The Temple is another possession. From where do we know this? Since it is said: The Sanctuary, O L-rd, which Your Hands have Established Shemot (Exodus) 15:17 And it says: And He Brought them to His Holy Realm, to the mountain, which His Right Hand had Possessed Tehillim (Psalms) 78:54. https://www.sefaria.org/Pirkei_Avot.6.11?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en

Whatever the Holy Blessed One Created in His world, He Created only for His Glory, as it is said: All who are linked to My name, whom I have Created, Formed and made for My Glory Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 43:7, And it says: The L-rd shall Reign for ever and ever Shemot (Exodus) 15:18.

Said Rabbi Hananiah ben Akashya: It pleased the Holy Blessed One to grant merit to Israel, that is why He Gave them Torah and Commandments in abundance, as it is said, The L-rd was Pleased for His Righteousness, to Make Torah great and glorious Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 42:21.

All of the above source materials, quotes, etc. clearly show

the importance of studying Torah.

May we try each day to learn about G-d, to follow His Ways and His Truth

Blessings and Peace

Rebbetzin Revi