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Learning Torah Has Actual Effects?
by Rabbi Gershon Avtzon
The source of the mitzvah to learn Torah is found in the Torah verse: “Speak of them to your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7)

Our Sages expound this verse from a halachic viewpoint. About the words "Speak of them when you sit...", Chazal teach us that "speak of them" refers to words of Torah. Chassidus explains this verse on a deeper level, showing that in Torah study itself there are many levels, and these are described as follows:

"When you sit at home" – this refers to the soul's occupation with Torah when it is in the trove of souls, before its descent to this lowly world. "When you go on the way" refers to the time during which the soul descends from world to world, from plane to plane, until it arrives at this lowest world to be invested in a physical body. There the soul remains, enclothed in a physical body, until the time of old age, when the moment of "When you lie down," comes, when man's appointed time arrives. Then too, as explained in Chapter Six of Avot, the Torah will protect him, until -"When you rise up," as it is said, "When you awaken (it shall be your discourse)." (from Hayom Yom 13 Av)

Historically, the Rebbe initiated this special campaign in 1974. The Rebbe wanted to "conquer the world" with the study of Torah. The Rebbe desired that there should be public Torah classes.

We see today that the interest in learning Torah and accessibility to the message and  content of the Torah is unprecedented. This is especially true with the advancement of the internet and websites such as www.chabad.org and www.askmoses.com, where instant access to an unlimited amount of Torah information can be accessed.

In the Talmud, Tractate Brachos 61b, Rebbe Akiva compares a Jew without Torah to a fish out of water. The Rabbis recorded in the Talmud that at one time, the “evil kingdom” (referreing to the Roman Empire) made a decree that the Jews were forbidden to study Torah. Papos ben Yehudah discovered Rebbe Akiva gathering congregations together and teaching Torah in public. He asked him in astonishment, "Akiva! Are you not scared of the government?"

Rebbe Akiva replied, "I will give you a parable to explain my actions. To what can our situation be compared? To a fox walking on the bank of a river, who saw fish in the water darting back and forth. He asked the fish, "Why are you fleeing?" The fish replied, "Because of the nets that people use to catch us." So the fox said, "Would you like to come up on the dry land? You and I will live together, just as your fathers lived with mine." The fish retorted, "Are you the oe that they call the clever animal? You are not clever at all, but a fool! If we are afraid here in the water, where we live, how much more so would we be afraid to be in a place where we die!"

"So it is with us, who are sitting and studying Torah, regarding which it says (Deuteronomy 30): ‘For it is your lives and the length of your days.' And so would it be with us if we were to get up and leave it," concluded Rebbe Akiva.

The Segulos of fulfilling this mitzvah of numerous. The Talmud (Sota 21a) explains that Torah protects the person who learns it.

Rabi Menachem the son of Rabi Yosi taught that that a mitzvah is compared to a candle and Torah is like its light. Just like a candle only protects a person temporarily, so too the fulfillment of a mitzvah only protects a person temporarily. However, the Torah is compared to light to teach us that just as light protects permanently, so too Torah protects permanently. The Torah states: “When you walk it shall lead you, etc.” — the words 'when you walk it shall lead you’, refers to this world. 'When you sleep it shall watch over you’ refers to protection in death. The words ‘when you awake it shall talk with you’ – this refers to the World to Come.

The Rebbe writes (Hayom Yom 4 Cheshvan): "Studying Torah every day is crucial to life itself. This applies not only to the soul of the one studying, but also to the souls of his family. For then, (through Torah-study), the atmosphere of the home becomes an atmosphere of Torah and piety."

Another special quality of the mitzvah of Torah study is that its greatness outweighs that of all other commandments. The rabbis of the Talmud wrote: "These are the things for which a person enjoys the reward in this world while the principal reward remains for the person to enjoy in the World to Come. They are: honoring parents, loving deeds of kindness, and making peace between one person and another, but the study of the Torah is equal to them all". (Talmud Shabbat 127a)

In addition, through Torah we attain true unity with Hashem. In the words of the Alter Rebbe (Tanya chapter 5), this is made clear to us. “Now, when an intellect conceives and comprehends a concept with its intellectual faculties, this intellect grasps the concept and encompasses it. This concept is [in turn] grasped, enveloped and enclothed within that intellect which conceived and comprehended it. The mind, for its part, is also clothed in the concept at the time it comprehends and grasps it with the intellect. For example, when a person understands and comprehends, fully and clearly, any halachah (law) in the Mishnah or Gemara, his intellect grasps and encompasses it and, at the same time, is clothed in it…[Simultaneously] the intellect is also clothed in them [the Divine will and
wisdom]. This is a wonderful union, like which there is none other, and which has no parallel anywhere in the material world, whereby complete oneness and unity, from every side and angle, could be attained.

“Hence the special superiority, infinitely great and wonderful, that is in the commandment of knowing the Torah and comprehending it, over all the commandments involving action, and even those relating to speech, and even the commandment to study the Torah, which is fulfilled through speech. For, through all the commandments involving speech or action, the Holy One, blessed be He, clothes the soul and envelops it from head to foot with the Divine light.

“However, with regard to knowledge of the Torah, apart from the fact that the intellect is clothed in Divine wisdom, this Divine wisdom is also contained in it, to the extent that his intellect comprehends, grasps and encompasses, as much as it is able so to do, of the knowledge of the Torah, every man according to his intellect, his knowledgeable capacity, and his comprehension in Pardes.

“Since, in the case of knowledge of the Torah, the Torah is clothed in the soul and intellect of a person, and is absorbed in them, it is called "bread" and "food" of the soul. For just as physical bread nourishes the body as it is absorbed internally, in his very inner self, where it is transformed into blood and flesh of his flesh, whereby he lives and exists— so, too, it is with the knowledge of the Torah and its comprehension by the soul of the person who studies it well, with a concentration of his intellect, until the Torah is absorbed by his intellect and is united with it and they become one. This becomes nourishment for the soul, and its inner life from the Giver of life, the blessed En Sof,
Who is clothed in His wisdom and in His Torah that are [absorbed] in it [the soul].”

We are also taught that Torah can protect against the Yetzer Harah. The Talmud (Kiddushin 30b) writes: "Barati Yetzer Harah, Barati Torah Tavlin” - I created the evil inclination, but I created the Torah as an antidote!

The following are details of the mivtza campaign. Most importantly, try to encourage as many people to learn Torah and join Torah classes. (For lessons over the telephone, check out www.jnet.org.) Religious or educational background is not a criteria for beginning Torah study at any time in a person’s life! Another way to implement this mivtzah is to put effort into making the Torah available in all languages and for all ages. Also, writing and printing novel Torah insights is a beautiful way to enhance and encourage Torah study. Additionally, one may arrange special classes for seniors and
call them "Kollel - Levi Yitzchak." The Rebbe teaches that one should be so involved in learning Torah, that he should even dream about Torah! (Sicha 9 Tishrei 5752)

Torah study is directly connected to the coming of Moshiach, for learning Torah is connected to redemption and freedom. This is evident from the saying of our Sages (in Avot): "Who is a free man? One who engages in Torah study." Through Torah study, we are able to be free.

What is freedom? It is the ability to be the best person that you can be and to develop to your fullest potential. When a Jew learns Torah, he frees himself of the shackles of this physical world and its temptations and allows his spiritual soul to fully express its divinity.

This is the reason that the King Moshiach must be a man who is immersed in Torah learning (Rambam, Hilchos Melachim 11:4). For Moshiach to bring freedom and redemption to the word, he must be a free man.

In addition, life in the times of Moshiach will be totally centered around Torah study. The Rambam writes (Teshuva 9:2 ): “For these reasons, all of Israel, [ and in particular,] their prophets and their Sages, have yearned for the Messianic age so that 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.

“In that era, knowledge, wisdom, and truth will become abundant. It [Isaiah 11:9] states, "The earth will be full of the knowledge of G-d." It [Jeremiah 31:33] states: “One man will no longer teach his brother, or a man his colleague... [for all will know Me]." And it [Ezekiel 36:26] states: "I will take away the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."

In addition, Moshiach will also teach Torah - and a "new Torah” (Midrash Vayikra 13:3) - as the Rambam continues:

“[These changes will come about] because the king who will arise from David's descendants will be a greater master of knowledge than Solomon and a great prophet, close to the level of Moses, our teacher. Therefore, he will teach the entire nation and instruct them in the path of G-d.”

The Rebbe teaches us (Tazaria-Metzorah 5751) that the "direct path" to bring Moshiach is by Torah study in general and by learning the parts of Torah that teach about Moshiach in particular, may we merit his coming, speedily in our days!
 

 


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