Sunday, November 25, 2007
Learning the Torah that Speaks to *You*
Rabbi Shteinzaltz, in his peirush on Tanya, commenting on the Baal Hatanya's introduction, told over a story with Rav Yosef Karo, the author of the Shulchan Aruch. He was learning kabbalah from the Ramak. But when the Ramak was niftar, he went to learn kabbalah from the Ar"i z"l. However, whenever he was listening to the Ar"i z"l was speaking, Rav Yosef Karo could not stay awake. He always fell asleep. At one point, the Ar"i z"l finally told him that he should not learn kabbalah by him because that type of Torah was not *his* personal chelek in Torah and it was therefore not shiach to him. This is probably why we say "v'sein chelkeinu b'sorasecha." This does not only mean that one should be zoche to be given our portion of the Torah. But it also is a tefilla that we are zoche to figure out what "our" chelek in Torah is.
Another point related to this is how the Baal Hatanya starts his Hakdama to the sefer Tanya. He says that the Tanya is intended for "kol anshei shelomeinu of our region and those close to it." It's interesting that he doesn't direct it at all of Klal Yisroel, but rather rather at those Yiddin who are from the same region, and share the same experience and related shorshei neshamos.
I heard from my rebbe that the most recent Lubavitcher Rebbe, z"l, would command the baal hamenagein, the song leader, by saying, "Zogt ah nigun!" "Say a nigun!" Why did he say to "say" a nigun? And not to "sing" a nigun, which would obviously make more sense grammatically. He explained that perhaps the reason is because a song, a nigun, is not just supposed to be something that one sings or listens to. It is supposed to "speak" to you. If a nigun doesn't "say" something that applies to you, it isn't doing its job. Perhaps this is why we have a minhag to say Torah to a "tune." It's because just like a nigun is supposed to speak to you, the Torah one learns is supposed to speak to you personally.
May Hashem merit that we all find those parts of the Torah that speaks to us personally!
(Picture of the Ar"i z"l's mikva courtesy of Reb Moshe)
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