Sunday, February 11, 2007

Meor Eynayim: Torah as advisor or ax?

(The picture is of Rav Dovid Twersky, the Skverer Rebbe, a descendant of Reb Nachum from Chernobyl.)

Reb Menachem Nachum of Chernobyl, in Parshas Yisro, quotes the gemara in Kiddushin 30b, that the antidote to the yetzer hara is learning Torah. It says there that if your yetzer hara is like a stone, the Torah will disintegrate it. And if your yetzer hara is like iron, it will be shattered by the Torah. But he observes that there are so many people who learn Torah a lot. They may be very orthodox, they learn b'iyun, and with "pilpul gadol," but whose yetzer hara seems to be in full swing! He wonders why it is that the Torah doesn't vanquish these people's yetzer hara.

He answers that these people are not learning Torah. What they are learning is not called "Torah," he says, because the Torah is meant to be a "Moreh Derech," a guide. You have to learn Torah with the intention that the Torah should teach you how to improve your personal avodas Hashem, and hiskarvus with Hashem. If you're not learning Torah that way, then what you're learning isn't Torah. He says that for many people of the aforementioned type, the Torah is just one more way for them to glorify themselves in this world. The Meor Eynayim doesn't use this phrase, but the Torah is merely a "kardom lachpor bo," (Pirkei Avos 4:7) for those people (an ax/tool to dig with). It is just a means to a worldly end.

May Hashem help us to merit to have in mind when we are learning that we internalize the message of the Torah that we "happen" to be learning each day, as a guide on how to live and serve Hashem better!

-Dixie Yid

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