How to Super Charge Your Torah Learning and Mitzvos
By Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l Translated by Rabbi Yair Hoffman
Sponsored by Rabbi and Mrs. Dovid Sandel for a refuah shleimah lechol cholei Yisroel!
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UNDERSTANDING THE MIDRASH
The Yalkut Shimoni (Remez 793) states that words of Tochacha are equal in weight to all of the Mitzvos in the Torah. The meaning is that through rebuke – you will come to Torah and Mitzvos. And further still, the very Mitzvos that he observes and the very Torah that he learns have an entirely different weight and value if they are performed and learned with greater fear of Heaven and with greater purity.
We see, therefore, that the concept of “didn’t merit” is applicable, chas v’shalom, to the realm of [achievement in] Torah. In the Torah’s illumination of daily life – the idea of numbers and percentages of what is considered “he merited” is applicable.
IMPROVING IS OUR PURPOSE IN LIFE
The Vilna Gaon in his comments to Mishlei (4:13) on the verse, “Take fast hold of discipline – mussar, do not let it loose; guard it, for it is your life” – explains: “Do not let it loose” – even for one moment. Rather, one should approach it in the opposite manner, one should constantly add fences and Mitzvos in addition to Mussar. For man’s purpose in life is to break through the character trait that he has not broken through until now. Therefore, he must constantly strengthen himself. If he does not strengthen himself – then of what purposes is life?
The Vilna Gaon is explaining that one cannot lose focus from Mussar at all, for it applies to the entire Torah – and this is the purpose of life in this world. This is particularly true in the matter of learning Torah, of which it says (Dvarim 30:20): “For she is your life.” This means that Torah brings a person to eternal life which is the purpose of Creation, as it says (Mishlei 16:15), “In the light of the countenance of the King (Hashem) is life, and His delight is like a cloud of the late rain. This is the purpose of Creation.
See further, the Vilna Gaon writes many times in his commentary on Mishlei about the difference between Torah study and Mitzvos. The obligation of studying Torah is constant – with no hefsek – no break. Mitzvos, however, only apply during their set times. (See his comments to Mishlei 1:9 and elsewhere.)
WHY MUST THE TORAH BE IN THE OLAM HAASIAH
And that which we need the life of Torah in olam haAsiah, the world of material existence, is in order to achieve this life through our toiling and overcoming the nisyonos, the struggles, of this world. In doing so, the value and weight of Torah [increases], to the extent that it fits with his path in life. And to this, life in this world is so that a person will merit life in Olam HaBah. So here, the main avodas hashem and the main nisyonos – struggles – lay in the extent that he can break his [negative] traits and correct them. And in this, his Torah and his Mitzvos will arise upward.
EVERYTHING DEPENDS UPON EFFORT
And we see in regard to the light of Torah and its effects upon the soul of man, that it is all dependent upon the amount of effort and exertion – how much he chooses Torah and extends himself toward it – through this his perceptions become stronger and the Torah is acquired by him. It is similar to one who learns with the purpose of fulfilling for then the Torah possesses an entirely different level. The reason for this is that it is possible for him to have studied the entire Torah even without him having been created and brought into this world of material existence. Indeed, even while in the womb of his mother, the unborn fetus studies the entire Torah (Nidah 30b).
WHY WE CAME TO THIS WORLD
Rather the purpose of his coming to this world is so that he will merit with his toil – and then the Torah will be his, and that which he achieves in the everlasting world is the reward earned based upon how much he had dedicated himself toward the Torah. This is what Shlomo HaMelech says when he writes, “for it is your life.” It was for this purpose that life in this world was given – to toil in Mussar and to raise his study of Torah and his observance of Mitzvos as much as possible.
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