[ Sefer Kavanos Halev ] [ A Frum Shidduch! ] [ Torah Video's ] [ All New Breslov ] [ Jewish Music Palace ] [ Simcha Smile Site ] [ Jewish Children ] [ Orthodox Wedding Video ] [ Litvish Chassid Torah Bayis ] [ About Us ] [ Moshiach Petition ] [ Queen Shabbos Online ] [ Jewish United Torah Sites ] [ Torah Discussion Boards ]

.... .. ... . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ......... . . .......


               Torah Study


             Rabbi Eliezer ben Azaryah said, “If there is no Torah, there is no proper social conduct; if there is no proper social conduct, there is no Torah. If there is no fear [of Hashem], there is no wisdom. If there is no knowledge, there is no understanding; if there is no understanding, there is no knowledge. If there is no flour, there is no Torah; if there is no Torah, there is no flour[1].” If this chapter on Torah study were to just tell you how important it is to learn the Torah then it would serve little purpose as that is a given taught to us by Chazal. The true question we all have is how to make the Torah part of ourselves, how to live and breath the Torah and Judaism. To live a life of truth and to fulfill our mission in this world, that is what our Torah study must bring us to.

            I heard in a shiur, given by Rav Mattisyahu Solomon, “If a person learns Torah
and it does not become a part of him then he isn’t learning Torah properly. A person has to internalize what he learns and it must affect his will power,” he went on to say. We have to want to make changes in our lives and in our midos. One can learn Torah all day long in yeshiva and get nothing out of it. We must repeat, pounding over and over again each Torah concept if that is what it takes to pierce our stiff hearts, full of gashmious and worldly ideas. One must learn something and then reflect upon it letting their learning open up new doors for them in perfecting themselves and drawing closer to Hashem. Isn’t this what Torah is all about?


            Rabbi Chaim Volozhin says, “This is the law of man. When a person busies himself with the Torah in order to observe all that he finds written therein, he purifies his body from head to foot.”[2]


            It says in Sefer Yetzirah that the world was created with 32 mystical paths of
wisdom. This is alluded to by the 32 times that Hashem’s name, Elokim, appears in the
account of creation in the first chapter of Genesis. The Torah is seen as the heart of
creation. The Hebrew word lev, heart, is spelled out with a lamed and a bais. It so happens that the Torah begins with the word Bereshis, meaning in the beginning, which starts with bais, and ends with the word Yisrael (Israel) in which the last letter is lamed. This is to show that the 32 paths of wisdom are in the Torah and the numerical value of the word lev, heart is also equal to 32. From this you can derive, if you do not let it the Torah touch upon your heart, what have you really accomplished?

            There was once a family in Russia having trouble with their child, Mordechai. He never wanted to study Torah, only to play around outside. Mordechai also had a tendency to get himself into trouble. This caused his parents a lot of anxiety. One day they heard that the Rabbi Aharon, of Karlin, would be coming to their town. Feeling a sign of relief, they brought Mordechai to meet the Rebbe. The Rabbi listened his parent’s story and responded to them very roughly. “I’ll have a few words with your son and set him straight. Just leave him to me. I'll teach him how to behave.” Mordechai’s parents, taken aback by his stern demeanor, yet assured by his confidence, let him take their precious son into his private room.

            The Rebbe leaned back on his couch and softly called Mordechai to come over.
The Rebbe held out his arms and motioned for him to come nearer. He then pulled him
close and held him against his heart for quite a long time. They then went out of the room
together. Not revealing the special method of persuasion he used, the Rebbe again spoke
roughly to the parents. “I had a word with him. He’ll shape up now!” The boy did indeed change his ways and became a well-known tzaddik, Rabbi Mordechai of Lecovitz, the father of the Slonim Chassidic dynasty. He always told his followers that he first learned Torah from R’ Aharon of Karlin who taught him Torah from the heart.

            Torah is something very sweet. When it touches your pallet you must do as Rabbi
Aharon of Karlin did when teaching it to others and yourself. The Rebbe let it come from inside his heart. How did it get inside the deep chambers of his heart? He welcomed it through hard work and through his great love and respect for the Torah.

            Once your heart is touched, then what? Well if you do not put something into action and into real change, then it just becomes stuck in your heart. Therefore, you must channel it out into the right places and into the performance of mitzvos and true change in your character. The Torah is not something to just think about. We must live it every moment and through every situation in our lives.


            You might ask, where are the answers to all of my hardships? It is in the written and oral Torah. It is in the books and commentaries from our great sages. From how to wake up in the morning, to how to fall asleep at night, it is all contained in the Torah. How does Hashem want us to live our lives? He wants us to base all our activities according to the Torah. The Torah is the blueprint of creation and our lives. It contains everything we need to understand how to survive and fulfill our mission in life. Not only does it tell us stories about how our great ancestors lived their lives, it tells us how to live ours today.


            Some people think that the Torah’s commandments were only required in the ancient days. They think this because they do not understand change, and they are missing the entire point of what Torah is. The Torah is a manual on how to live. It teaches us how to act and treat others. It explains to us how to find Hashem and to find ourselves. Each commandment is a channel leading to truth in ones heart and for ones soul. As Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss says, “The Torah is all good!”


            “She is similar to a merchant’s fleet, bring her sustenance from afar.”[3] Metaphorically, this verse alludes to the Torah, for Hashem provides for all the needs of those who study the Torah day and night.[4] The comparison to a merchant’s ships is very fitting because if Hashem wants a merchant to succeed, He guides him to a certain place and causes him to buy a quantity of merchandise, and then He induces buyers to come and buy his wares. In the same way, Hashem sends His angels from afar to furnish the sustenance to those who devote themselves to full-time Torah study. That is why the Torah is called “bread” in Shabbos 120a. [5]

            In the introduction to Me’am Lo’ez, Rabbi Yakkov Culi says over a parable: “Every person realizes that if a wealthy man or great scholar wrote him a letter saying that he should do something, he would certainly try extremely hard to fulfill it as soon as possible. If the letter was written in a foreign language he would even be willing to pay to have it translated so he would know what to do. This should be all the more true in the case of the Torah, which is the “letter” from Hashem Himself!”


            So how can we not devote our entire lives to understanding the Torah? It is obvious that it is the will of Hashem that we do so. What could be better for ones soul and life then to learn Torah? Everything we do in life should be in order to be able to study more Torah, for is it not the purpose in which we breath?


            It is a mitzvah to teach Torah to our children, and it is also a mitzvah for us to personally learn it. If not now, when will we take to heart our true purpose? When will we run our lives according to the Torah and reflect on it day and night as we have been instructed by Hashe, in His letter to us? A home without words of Torah spoken in it is not a home. A Synagogue in which people come only to socialize is not a Synagogue. All Synagogues should arrange gatherings to learn more about the Torah. If they don’t, aren’t they missing the true meaning of having a Synagogue? The Talmud teaches us, when people learn Torah, especially when together in a group, the Divine Presence, resides with them.

            Reb Boruch’s of Mezhibuzh’s young grandson, Yechiel, was playing hide and seek with one of his friends. Yechiel found a good hiding place and waited anxiously for his friend to find him. After a long while waiting, he looked around and found out that his
friend had just left. Indeed, his friend had never even tried looking for him! Crying
profusely, Yechiel went quickly to his grandfather and told him what had happened. Reb
Boruch also broke into tears. He said, ‘G-d says the same thing - ‘I hid, but no one tries to find Me.’”

            The life of a Jew is not supposed to be a complicated life. It is actually quite a simple one. We were placed in a body into this material world for one specific purpose, to lift up the fallen sparks in the world by doing various mitzvos. What mitzvah contains all others? The learning of Torah! How does one search to find Hashem? Living a life of Torah and mitzvos is the only way one can look to find Him. It says in the Zohar, “whomever toils at Torah is considered to have offered all the sacrifices in the world. In addition to this, the Holy One forgives all of his sins.”[6]

            “Uncover my eyes, that I may look upon the wonders of Your Torah.”[7]
 Many people spend their lives wrongfully searching in the incorrect places. They do not realize that everything they need spiritually is in there own religion, Judaism. Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk taught, “There are many ways to approach Hashem, but they are all dangerous. The only safe way is through the Torah.”[8] Mysticism, mediation, music, and art are all part of the Torah. Science, Astrology, Medicine can also be found in Torah.

            Rav Moshe Feinstein used to place his original Torah thoughts to writing. It is said that when a thought would come to mind and there was no paper around to use, he would record over the chiddush[9] on any available substitute, even a stone. Rav Moshe was someone who not only learned the Torah for the sake of the mitzvah but also with complete humility. Through this he became the greatest posek of his generation. His sensitivity to others guided by his love for Torah gave him the understanding to make halachic rulings perfectly clear as the Jewish society started to grow in modern times. Rav Moshe was very encouraging to his students. He felt that people many times did not reach their true potentials. This was not so much by their lack of abilities as by their lack of confidence in themselves and ambition to attain major goals.

            In our day and age people really lack the essential self-confidence they should have in themselves. It’s a problem that so many of us have. We really have little faith in ourselves and we do not believe that we can reach high levels of avodas Hashem. Our Rabbis constantly tell us the story of Rabbi Akiva and his wife, but we really do not seem to take it to heart. Rabbi Akiva was a simple shepherd who barely knew a word of Torah yet he completely turned himself around at forty years old. Not only did he take on a life of Torah, but also he became one of the greatest rabbis that ever lived. How did he accomplish such heights? His wife first believed in him and married him seeing that his heart was genuine. As he started learning Torah, he also began believing in himself and he devoted his entire life to learning and teaching Torah.

            All my life I have tried to grow in Torah and Judaism. My father believed in me
and because of that I believed in myself. Let me be honest with you and admit I have
had problems with my self-confidence but having him believe in me is what helped
me find it within myself. The support of my wife in writing this sefer also gives me the strength to finish this vast project. I tell you this that you too should show all your friends and children, you believe in them. Of course we should not need encouragement and others to believe in us, we should just have the strength on our own. We are just human though and today when self confidence is at an all time low, we need the ones we love to show us their support and respect. It is our job to encourage one another especially those only beginning to grow in Judaism but let us also not forget those who are already learning. They could use our appreciation to keep up their fine efforts.

            It is written, “water wears away stone”.[10] What this means is that you
should never give up on yourself and in what you do. If you try very hard and struggle, eventually, you will reach your goal. No matter how little of Torah you know the little you grow is important. Can you imagine what you can know in one year if you gave it all of your strength? Rebbe Nachman says, “So many tzaddikim could have reached much higher levels if only they believed in themselves.” Set goals for yourself with learning and serving Hashem, make things happen today.  

            “Each day Hashem studies Torah for three hours.”[11] If Hashem is the one who gave us the Torah, and He learns it three hours a day, how much more so do we who have received it from Him have to study the Torah? Many of the sages from the Talmud would not even walk four amos without reviewing in their mind a Torah concept they had learned. We should not be any different, especially those of us who devote countless hours in the Bais Midrash, house of study. If we are going to spend so much time already learning in the yeshiva then we may as well continue thinking about it outside every moment we can. That is what gave these sages from the Talmud their energy and fire to understand and write some of the deepest pasukim in shas. They did not leave their learning in the study hall. 


            “The most important practice is that you do not just think Torah thoughts when you are learning from a sefer, but that you continue when it is closed to think and meditate about what you had read there. Doing this is not just so that you can perform what is written, but also for the objective of purifying and strengthening your mind… Is it not to your advantage in this and the coming world that instead of allowing your thoughts to drift about unrestrained in whatever comes to mind, that you ponder of holy things? And if it is too hard when you have some spare time to bend your intellect to think about complex matters like those of the Gemara, then why not think things from the Aggadah which are so pleasing, and Chassidism… when you have a free hour or even fifteen minutes, and when you are walking outside on the road?


            If in the beginning this is difficult, then you should recognize that it is always easier to do what you want and to wallow in anything, rather than holding yourself to some standard, to the direction of integrity and to piety. However when you have accustomed yourself to this type of Torah meditation… and have practiced it several times, then you will not be able to go around without holy thoughts.


            After having kept this practice, if it happens on occasion that you were walking on the street and you stopped meditating on Torah thoughts and on holy things as you go along, you will suspect inside as if, Chas V’ Shalom, you had actually committed the transgression of neglecting a time that you had put aside and devoted to Torah study.”[12]


            Have you ever noticed when seeing a wise Torah sage that there is fire in their
eyes? Do you know what that fire is? It is the glow of Torah. It comes to someone who learns Torah with much purity and love. One can work so hard on a sugya, that they take out the enjoyment of the simple mitzvah, to learn Torah. If its not enjoyable to you, how will you remember what you have learned? If you see a great sight and your enjoying it, then you let it impact your heart, never forgetting it. The same notion is true with Torah learning. Therefore let the joy of the mitzvah of learning become a strong part of you!


            Have you ever realized that when your heart was filled with Torah, sadness could not find its way in? One’s evil inclination puts all it’s strength into making a person think sad thoughts. Do you know why that is? It is because depression is the key the satan uses to unlock the door to get inside you. Do you know how to prevent this and fight back? Take him to the house of study, as our sages of the Talmud advised.

            I once noticed that every time I wanted to learn Torah, I would suddenly think of
things I had forgotten to do. One time I sat down to learn and the next thing I knew I was by the sink brushing my teeth. Other times I would remember that I really should make some phone call so as not to forget. Sometimes I would sit down to learn and get a thought that I was hungry. I would close my sefer, eat and not return to my studies as planed. The Satan has many tricks up his sleeve but, when it comes to your learning Torah, that is when they all start manifesting themselves. If you are watching out carefully for yourself, you will see how obvious the Satan makes it that he does not
want you to learn Torah and perform mitzvos. 

            Once there was a Rabbi who had a marvelous idea how to protect himself from bittle Torah. Whenever he had a thought to go out and do something, he would first
walk into the Bais Midrash, start learning a few minutes, and then he would be able to
think clearly. This way he was able to know if this was a trick from the Satan to get him out of learning or if he should really perform this physical action.

            Rebbe Nachman frequently stressed the importance of studying the Shulchan Aruch. He emphasized this more than any other study. It is best to study all four sections of the Shulchan Aruch in order, from beginning to end. If you can also study its major commentaries, it is that much better. At the very least you should at least cover the main work. This study is a tremendous spiritual remedy. When a person sins, good and evil are intermingled. A legal opinion is an obvious separation between the permitted and the forbidden, the clean and the unclean. When you learn religious law, good is once again separated from the evil and the sin is rectified. The Rebbe said that every one must study the codes each day without fail.[13]


            Do you know why our young scholars of today do not seem to retain Torah like
those of previous generations? It is not that they lack enthusiasm. Rather it is because they do not know how to channel their energies. Much of the answer to this lies in the approach in which we study today. The most correct way of learning is to first learn all of Tanach, then Mishna, Gemarah, and then finally touch upon Kabbalah. How do most of us study today, we put everything into Talmud or Kabbalah, and we wonder why we know nothing compared to the sages of the past. We have not learned sufficient chumash and Mishna. The Gemarah all stems from Tanach and Mishnayos, so doesn’t it make sense to concentrate most of our efforts there first?


            I once asked Rabbi Shalom Friedman how Rabbi Chaim Vital was able to be a vessel to learn Torah from the Arizal HaKodesh. He answered with a serious stare in his eyes, “Every day he immersed in the mikvah without fail. Also, first he began learning Tanach; he then followed this by learned Mishna. Afterwards he learned Talmud and only then did he learn Kabbalah.”


            One problem that people have is that after their basic yeshiva education, they start learning less. As their lives get busy, they also lose their enthusiasm for learning. Since this happens so commonly, yeshivos see no choice but to push the learning Talmud even before talmidim are properly prepared. The philosophy is that the Talmud will at least sustain a person spiritually who most likely, be distracted by vanities of this world, and will only learn Torah a few minutes a day. There are many repricotions because of this, one being that understanding true pshat is more difficult if not impossible. As the learning of Talmud, without knowledge of all of Tanach and Mishnayos, is not the way it was originally intended to be studied.


            Today many have learned thousands of pages of Gemarah, and they do not even know what happened in Shmuel Bais of Tanach. Others are scholarly in Shulchan Oruch with smichah but before having learned its source, the Gemarah. Things are certainly twisted around a bit, but maybe that’s the best we can do considering we have no wanting to make time. Can you imagine though, if we took the time to learn things in the correct order and way. Maybe there would be more of us who would understand Torah like those of previous generations.

            Our relatives up above are constantly looking down at us and praying for us. I
wonder what they think when they see most of us wasting valuable time. They are
probably thinking to themselves, “If only I could come down to them, and tell them how
much one mitzvah is worth in reward in the next world. If only my great grandson knew
what I know right now, he would stop chatting, do teshuvah, and learn Torah properly!”

            I am sure if our relatives could, they would come to us in our dreams and tell us we have to be better Jews. It is in their merit and for our nation that we must grow in Judaism. Think of all their struggles they made in order to keep Torah alive for all these generations. Sages have written thousands of sefarim in order to keep Torah alive. Some Rabbis risked their lives to record over their Torah knowledge and to publish their manuscripts. Today anyone can publish a book, but a hundred years ago? Many risked their lives to print words of Torah. We owe it to them to read these fine masterpieces they struggled and risked their lives over. After all, they did it just for us!

            Some people limit themselves as to what books of Torah they care to learn.
Hashem did not create Chassidus just for Chassidim. Nor did he bring the Goan of Vilna’s Torah teachings into the world just for Litvachs. After all, it does say, He who is wise, learns from every man![14] Do you know how much you might be missing if you do not keep an open mind and learn Torah from many different pathways? A person should always choose one main derech, pathway, but at the same time if they don’t explore those teachings that are parallel, then they are withholding themselves from much good.

            Many people who have never really learned Chassidus in their yeshivos do not
understand what it is all about. They think that Chassidus is basically Kabbalah and filled
with unnecessary extra knowledge not truly needed for serving Hashem. Chassidus is
something much different. It is something warm and sweet that brings a person to higher
levels of love for Hashem, Torah and their fellow Jews. Chassidus is also very spiritual
teachings of Torah from the deepest concepts of Judaism, taught in a simple way that every man can understand. What is the purpose of a teacher? Their job is to take something above the knowledge of the student and help them understand it in a simple way. This is what Chassidic Rebbes have done. They have taken Torah concepts that are very deep and explained them in a meaningful and sweet way. It would be an injustice to ones soul to not explore and appreciate these teachings.


            Another way to view Chassidus is to understand that it is mussar from a completely unique angle just its own. It is not just something for advanced students as some have come to believe. The Baal Shem Tov HaKodesh is the sage who brought into the world the Chassidic movement. His intentions were that normal every day people would be uplifted and serve Hashem more devoutly by it. The world needed more deviekus, fervor and warmth, and the Baal Shem Tov knew exactly what was missing for the people. To know Chassidus is to love it! At the very least, one should respect it and explore it somewhat. The Vilna Goan, Rabbi Aharon Kotler, The Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Yisrael Salanter, Rabbi Akiva Eger, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein and many more have left us with their fine manuscripts on Torah. To not explore their works completely is also only an injustice to oneself.

            Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin once said, “Try to be as close to Torah scholars as much as possible even if you do not understand what they are saying. This is analogous to a person who enters a store that has pleasant smelling spices and perfumes. Solely by being in that atmosphere gives you a pleasant smell. So, also, you benefit by being in the presence of a Torah scholar, even if you do not grasp everything he says. Drink and thirst any words of Torah that you get the chance to hear.”[15]


            When the Rabbi of Lublin was a young man, he studied in the yeshivah of the holy gaon, Rabbi Shmelke of Nikolsburg. Each time he was with him learning, he would smell the fragrance of the Garden of Eden. However, the Rebbe, Reb Shmelke would try to hide this, and whenever he studied with his talmidim, he had on the table different kinds of spices so that if one of them would detect something he would think it was just the spices.[16]


            I would like to share a personal story of how I got some extra help learning
Mishnios from my father z"l. To take in Torah, one has to toil and toil over it. Sometimes
though, you get stuck in a place and cannot get yourself to continue. As I was learning
Mishnios I became frustrated and did not know how I could continue to finish the seder. I was ready to just quit and learn something else but there was a sign given to me. When I turned the next page I saw a little strand of hair from my father’s beard sitting in
the crack of the book. I missed my father so much as he had passed away not long before, but through seeing a little strand of hair, left there in my Mishnios, I realized he too struggled over finishing this exact seder! At that moment I cried and smiled. I was overcome by a new enthusiasm, as I knew that the Torah I was learning was important. It was something dear to my father’s heart as it should be mine. Wasting no time I continued with this new vitality and I thanked Hashem for showing me this miracle. As I went from page to page learning over the year, I always looked to see if I could find another strand of hair, especially at times when the learning got extra difficult.

            There is something special between a father and son, grandfather and grandson. When you find out that your relatives who have passed away have been to a place that you have been to, it makes things extra special. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach once said, “Only go to places that your ancestors have been before.” Let me tell you, your relatives, maybe not one-generation back but two or three, studied the Tanach, Rambam, Talmud and everything else they could find about Judaism. They have been here before and they would love it and if you visited the same places. My friends, learn everything you can! Life is short and before we know it we will not be able to do any more mitzvos. Seize as many as you can and study very hard all of the Torah.”


            Once Rebbe Reb Shmelke, the head of the religious court of Nikolsburg was once studying Torah with his holy brother Rabbi Pinchas. Both of them had already remained awake together for a number of nights with no sleeping, studying standing on their feet the entire time. Rabbi Pinchas could not find the strength to continue so he went and got himself a pillow to lean on so he could finally take a little nap. His elder brother, Reb Shmelke reproached him, saying, “Brother! How can you stop from learning the holy Torah, parting from that which is of everlasting worth for a transient pleasure?” His brother Reb Pinchas responded, “Don’t you see that I haven’t the slightest bit of strength left with which to continue.” Reb Shmelke explained, “But I was speaking to you about just this moment that you used your energy to walk over and get a pillow for yourself. You could have applied that energy differently and have remained standing and learning.”[17]


            As you can see, Reb Shmelke was so devoted to his learning and growth that he did not even waist one minute of his time that could have been spent learning. Not all of us will reach a level like that of Reb Shmelke but it is important to know that it is within our reach as well. The reason Reb Shmelke had such strength was not through the normal intake of food, drink and sleep. Rather, he was being sustained completely by the Torah learning itself. This is the highest level of true learning and it is very powerful. Torah is so holy that the holiness it extends nourishes even the body like the purest of grains. To jump into learning at this level will only completely shatter ones body. A person must advance one step at a time. It is important to recognize the power of Torah. If only we comprehended it! Would we waist away our days oversleeping and talking idly? 

            Many of us struggle on a regular basis with our levels of comprehension and memory. It can be very frustrating to work so hard at something only to forget it and not grasp it like you truly would like to. The great Goan Rabbi Moshe Feinstein taught, “When you sit down to study Torah, clear your mind and experience a feeling of total newness towards what you are about to do. This will give you pleasure in the mitzvah of learning Torah. Just as a young child remembers well because of the freshness of his mind when he studies, so too you will remember what you study when you begin studying Torah. This is especially important for people who are busy with many daily activities. As you sit down to study Torah, clear your mind and you will then be able to concentrate with full attention.”[18]


            The technique of Rabbi Zusya’s Torah learning was known to all. His pious way was to succeed at grasping all the difficult topics in the Torah just through tears and prayer. Once he was instructing a very clever young man who asked profound questions the Rebbe was not able to answer. The Rebbe went into his room for a short time and when he came out he give an amazing answer, as if from one of the gaonim. [During that time he was not great compared to other tzaddikim of the Time]. After this continued on for some time, the astonished young man wondered how the Rabbi came up with these incredible answers, which exceeding his level of Torah expertise. So he glanced through a crack in the door to see what Rabbi Zusya was doing in his room, and noticed that he was crying abundantly and hitting his head against the wall, and praying to the Holy One, blessed be He “Why don’t You make known to me the wisdom of Your holy Torah?”[19]


            If you do not understand a topic you learned, make a confession of your sins, cry and give some tziddakah. Doing this is a proven method and your eyes will be enlightened thereby.[20]


            Many of the great Rabbis have had a practice of always doing teshuvah before they began to learn Torah. As it says in Totzaos Chayim page .33, “Men of deeds make it a ordinary practice to come clean of their sins before they begin to learn. They do this is in order to eliminate the shells which darken the mind and inhibit them from understanding what they are learning.” Some sages when getting stuck on understanding a halacha would remedy this by giving some tziddukah or perform some mitzvah and this would clear up there confusion.[21]


            Rebbe Nachman says, “In the future Hashem will make everyone recall all he ever learned. This includes, even those things forgotten by him during his lifetime[22]. This is true also of teachings heard from the mouth of a true tzaddik and not understood. In the future world, all will be comprehended. The Torah exists primarily for the soul. In the future life, all souls will recall and comprehend everything they listened to and studied in this world. Delighted is he who fills his days with much Torah and devotion[23].

            Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov once said, “Prior to prayer and Torah study, after having done teshuvah, arouse your heart to fear of Hashem based on your love for Him. This is because, without such fear and love, the prayer or Torah you learn will not soar to heaven. You should arouse yourself by meditating on Hashem’s greatness and exaltedness [to arouse fear and awe], and on all the abundant goodness that He bestows on us [to arouse love]. During your study, continually pause just to meditate on this.[24]


            It is remarkable the amount of learning one can accomplish when they have a strong desire to come close to Hashem Yisborach. Rabbi Gustman told his students, “The difference between us is that when you have a difficulty, you just look around a little to see if the Acharonim[25] talk about a solution. If you can’t find an answer quickly, you go off to eat, to sleep. When I have a difficulty, then there is no eating, there’s no sleeping, until I have found a clarification.”[26] In Grudno, the town where Rabbi Gustman was from, it was not uncommon for a bochor to finish all of Bavli and Yerushalmi Talmud by age sixteen. Maybe even three times by the age of eighteen.


            Every five months Rabbi Zelig Reuven Bengis, Rav in Yerushalayim, would make another siyum after completing shas. At the young age of five, Rabbi Nochum Parzovitz knew the entire Chumash by heart. By eight he had mastered all of Tanach. The Machnovke Rebbe knew the entire Shulchan Aruch by heart but he kept his talents to himself as much as he could. He would always try to keep a precise schedule of learning each day; this included about eighteen hours of study a day. He also never missed an immersion in the mikvah in ten years while living in Siberia. During the time when the Nazis, yimach shemo, were picking Jews off the streets, the Skolye Rebbe never missed going to the mikvah every morning. His gabbi would dress up in similar clothing as the Nazis and pretend he was taking the Skolye Rebbe away. In this way they were never caught and the Rebbe continued his practice of attending the mikvah every day. How amazing it is when a person works on there nature so much that they become a breathing sefer Torah!


            Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman once said, “Torah means learning. Each word should contain a lesson, otherwise its place in the Torah is not justified.”


            Read books magnificently written, on fine paper as well as attractively bound. Undertake to read in an inviting room and from time to time fix your eyes upon beautiful objects so that you will come to love what you read.[27]


            He who is able to articulate the words when studying Torah, yet learns silently does not fulfill the mitzvah of Talmud Torah, even as every mitzvah which is fulfilled through another’s recitation, remains unfulfilled as long as we do not hear the other recite the words.[28]


            There is no one correct way for everyone as to how to learn. Many of our Rabbanim have devised many strategies to assist a person in their learning. For some a more focused slower pace is best while for others a much quicker pace. One should never stop seeking out the best methods for their study of Torah. There is no wrong or right when it comes to how as long as it is within the proper guidelines. The most important thing is to just learn with all your heart with the proper intentions. This is within all of our capabilities. There is always more a person can learn, even after a lifetime of study one realizes they know absolutely nothing. Coming to this realization might be the most important growth in ones learning.


            It is very easy to get discouraged seeing how vast the Torah is and how everyone around you seems like a master in it compared to you. These are normal feelings and we all have them. It is important to remember that the only ones opinion that truly matters is Hashem’s. There is no race between students of the Torah as there is no finish line or flag waving the last lap. The scholar who wins is the one who practices and shares what he learns in a positive way. We are a nation and together we win. This we learn from the twenty four thousand students of Rabbi Akiva who left this world early because they thought the Torah was ‘about me’. 


            Many young scholars feel they are searching for truth in their learning by arguing about a concept like they would the points scored in a basketball game. When Bais Shamai and Bais Hillel argued about a halacha, it was not to win self worth. Having found the proper answer, they did not feel pride. There was no self-need to be correct. They were searching for truth and only the truth. Proper machlochis is done beshalom without hurting ones fellow Jew for egotistical reasons. Until the days of moshiach perfect truth is in exile but praise be the person who finds it before his arrival through looking at the world with an eye of shalom.




           Thank you Hashem for giving me the strength and time to learn. I am grateful that you have created me as a Jew, and You have given me one mitzvah, which is equivalent to all 613 commandments. A mitzvah is so precious to me that I am pleading to You, Hashem, to allow me to fulfill it in all of its particulars. Learning the Torah for its own sake and without ulterior motives, to study with joy and serenity. May there also be shalom with those around me so I should be able to concentrate and not be distracted. Please Hashem, take away the worries of parnasa giving my family sufficient income that I may devote myself to my studies.


          Rebone Shel Ohlam, help me please to teach over the Torah I learn and to practice it, thereby let it not be lost. Help me remember all my studies and understand everything I learn so I may fulfill it in all its aspects.


          The yetzer hara is constantly on the chase to prevent me from learning. Instead of me failing to strengthen myself, as I should, let the satan fall from his attempts from preventing me from studying. Hashem, I truly want to study Your Torah and I do not want to waist away my days in pointless frivolous things. I know that I can do better Hashem but not without your constant assistance. Hashem, I am calling for help from the deepest depths of my heart. Honestly Hashem, its not that I do not know how to serve You and overcome my evil inclination. I do know! I’m being realistic by asking for Your assistance, as I am sick of failing You Hashem, my for-fathers, parents and myself. I can try fooling myself all I want to but when it really comes down to it, most of my problems stem from bittle Torah. Master of the world, help me to utilize my time properly for now on. Not wasting one minute on unimportant things that are not eternal like the study of Torah. Torah is first, Torah is last, and it is true happiness!


          I appreciate your patience with me Hashem. You have watched over me even when I was undeserving and You have saved me countless times. No one in the world could ever care for me as much as You do. When I stubble, You are there to lift me up. When I arise, You are there to grasp me in your light. Without You Hashem, I am nothing.

[1] Pirkei Avos chapter 3.20

[2] Nefesh Hachayim 21

[3] Proverbs 31:14

[4] Avodah Zarah 19a

[5] Sefer Chasidim 208

[6] Zohar 3:260a

[7] Tehillim119, 18

[8]Emet VeEmunah p. 12.  

[9] Original Torah thought

[10] Job 14:10

[11] Talmud Avodah Zarah 3b  

[12] Rabbi Kalonymus Kalmish Shapiro, the Rebbe of Peasetzna, Hachsharas ha-Abrechim, p.32

[13] Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom, 29


[14] Pirkey Avos chapter 4

[15] Consulting the Wise, 4:18

[16] Ohel Elimelech, p. 135, #343

[17] Mekor Chayim, p. 100, #333

[18] Consulting the Wise, 8:2

[19] Mazkeres Shem ha-Gedolim, p.68

[20] Or Tzaddikim, p.16b, #17

[21] Zohar 1:185a Ibid p.32


[23] Sichos Haran 26

[24] Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov, Hanhagos Adam #10

[25] Post – 15th century commentaries

[26] Torah Luminaries

[27] Maaseh Ephod

[28] Shulchan Oruch Harav, Talmud Torah 3:2