And Study of the Torah is Equivalent to them all...
The Mitzvah of learning Torah
With dedicating ourselves to " Learning Torah" and recognizing that the study of Torah itself is one of the 613 Mitzvot of Torah. We might see learning Torah a means through which to know how to keep Mitzvot, but not as a Mitzvah itself. The practical Mitzvot are a fulfillment of HaShem's command in the realm action, Torah study is a fulfillment of His command in the realm of thought and speech.
With recognition of Torah study as its own Mitzvah, is the most important part of the way in which we accepted Torah at Har Sinai. As we should conprehen, that it is not possible to do a Mitzvot without listening first and finding out what they are. With this it would make more sense to say ' We will listen and we will ( then ) do".
The following explanation from Zohar:
" We shall do~ with performance of Mitzvot, and we shall listen~ with the words of Torah.
The awareness of learning Torah as a Mitzvah defines the concept of Torah Lishmah.
Now how do we learn Torah as a individual? What does Torah for us and what the Torah requires from us?
The most important thing which we gain from Torah study is a Divine connection, which is the spiritual influence of Torah. The study of Torah is necessary since without, we could never come to observance of the Mitzvot. When we do not study Torah, how do we know what is commanded to do? But apart from this, study of Torah fulfills a huge role in perfecting ourselves.
A fundamental concept regarding learning Torah, is that although the Torah takes the form of words and statements, the essence of Torah is the divine influence within Torah. Our mind is the means how we processes Torah, elevate through Torah and resides within us. Learning Torah is not about information, but about how we can transform ourselves.
Through involement and stuying Torah we become attached to HaShem's Word and Will~ and He and His word and Will are one.
" If a person acquires an object, can he also acquire it's owner? Yet the Holy One, Blessed be He, gave the Torah to Israel and said to them, " You have, so to speak, acquired Me well" - The Sages.
Having described the unity with HaShem which we attains through learning, Tanya states that the intent of attaining this unity is what defines the concept of Torah Lishmah- for it's own sake.
Recognizing that this is crucial in learning Torah and a element of connecting with HaShem that comes through Torah study. When we are mindful of the role of Torah study, in performing connection with HaShem's Will and through this with HaShem Himself. We will come to see this in a different light, awareness that our achievement in Torah are measured.
From our own experience in learning Torah, we can see the difference between our understanding and where we did not. A deep level of understanding of Torah, does not rest on the surface, but lies at the core and requires investment in Torah study.
The words of the Sages are defined by Mishnah in Pirkei Avos:
" And all their words are like coals of fire ".
The effort in learning Torah and it's succes, doesn't mean that we are reaching a point where we have to put no effort in Torah study. Succes in Torah means that we reach a point where we can invest in a higher level. Torah study is never completely done, it is a cycle which pursuing our own Torah connection
The effects of learning Torah
What are the effects of learning Torah has on the individual?
The effect of learning torah relates to the spiritual connention. The study of Torah is necessary, since without a person could never come to practical observance of the Mitzvos, as he wouldn't know what he has been commanded to do, but aside from this the study of Torah fulfills a major role in perfecting us. Among forms of Divine influence by HaShem, there is the essence which is more precious and elevated than anything else that exist, to which we can contain on aspect of HaShem's true existence.
The one who HaShem attacted this influence is the Torah, and is created for the this purpose. HaShem has formed these words and statements. So that when spoken and through comprehending, the fundamental concept regarding learning Torah, the essence of Torah is the Devinie infuence within the words and thoughts and contains godliness.
A person's mind is the means through which he processes Torah, but the ultimate respository of Torah is in the person who beccomes elevated through Torah that resides within himself.
Learning Torah is not about imformation, it is about transformation.
In spiritual effect of learning.
Whenever a person prepares himself to learn Torah, the mind should be attach itself with all the energies to HaShem's Word- Halacha- and through this we become attached to HaShem Himself. For He and His Will are one.
The unity with HaShem which we get through Torah learning, the Baal HaTanya states that the intent of getting this unity is what defines the concept of Torah Lishmah.
The concept of Lishmah refers to learning, in order to attach our soul to HaShem through the process of understanding Torah, each person in their own abilities and levels of comprehension.
Torah Lishmah refers to the intent to developing and elevated spiritual connection with HaShem.
Torah study gurantee to Jewish survival
The Rabbis emphasize that the study of Torah is the only guarantee of the future of the Jewish people. With the loss of the political autonomy in 70 CE, and even the national territory, Jews became totally dependented upon the Torah and it's interpretations for their survival.
In context of the persecution under Rome in the second century, when the study of Torah was forbidden by Law, by the Emperor Hadrian. The Rabbis emphasized that the Torah was the lifeblood of the Jewish people.
We can find an example of this in Talmud Bavli, commenting on the Tractate B'rachos of the Mishnah. This passage can be found on page 61b, and is one of the many wisdoms of Rabbi Akiva and the most famous of Tannaim. Rabbi Akiva taught this at the time of the Hadrianic persecutions in the third and fourth decades of the second centuary, two generations after the destruction of the second Beis HaMikdash.
The story which said to be taken place near the end of Rabbi Akiva's life.
Here is an opening phrase of this passage. The text comes from the Tannaim, but was not included in the Mishnah.
"Once the wicked government of Rome issued a degree forbidden the Jews to study and observe the Torah. Pappus b. Judah came and found Rabbi Akiva publicly gathering people to study Torah with him.Pappus said to him: " Akiva, are you not afraid of the government?" He replied: " I will explain it to you with a meshalim: A fox was once walking alongside a river, and he saw fish moving in swarms to and from. He said to them: From what are you fleeing? They replied: From the nets cast for us by men. He said to them: Do you want to come up on dry land so that you and I can live together in peace, in the way that my ancestors lived with yours? They replied: You are not clever but floolish. If we are afraid in the element in which we live, how much more so should we be afraid in the element in which we would die! This the same with us. If this is our condition when we sit and study Torah, of which it is written, ' For that is your life and the length of your days' - Devarim 30:20, if we go and neglect it, how much worse off will we be?"
This simple story tells the importance of the study of Torah. Meshalim, which appears frequently in Midrash and parts of Talmud. This Meshalim is also known in other cultures, but in this story the fish presents the Jewish people, who live in water, symbolizing the Torah, water of life( mayim chayim) and who fear being removed from the source of existing.
The Romans, who are the fishermen, attempt to trap the fish in their nets, and the fox is Pappus b. Judah, who portrayed himself as a kind person who wants his fellow Jews live in peace with the Roman power, and asks them to come on dry land in order to escape their predators. On the surface, it seems reasonable, If they abandon the Torah they will escape Roman persecution. Little does he know, that abandoning the Torah will not guarantee survival.
In fact, even when the Rabbis like Rabbi Akiva were persecuted and killed by the Roman's for disobeying the prohibition, they still saw the Torah as guarantee of their furure.
The Torah is " Your life and the length of your days " meaning that even though you may be persecuted in this world, you will be rewarded in the world to come. As a result of Torah study and observance, the Jewish people as a whole will always survive.
The Inner Dimension of Torah
Everytime we perform a Mitzvah( with joy ), we create a spiritual garment for our Neshama.
Jewish mysticism in Hasidic thoughts is the essence of Torah, its a journey of our spiritual self as a Jew.
By studying the inner dimensions of the Torah we can achieve joy, which we can find back in the teaching of Chassidism and Kabbalah and in this part of the dimension of Torah is all about us to love HaShem, pure by observing His commandments. The beauty of this study enables us to understand more about the Hidden secret and consealed aspects of the Torah. This will help us to go deeper into what is driving us or guiding our lives.
Only the Hidden dimension of the Torah has the power to reveal to us the deepest secret about HaShem and His creative power and His ultimate plan.
It also teaches us in which His super natural realm function, but most importantly, the inner secret of the Torah focus mostly on HaShem and His relationship with us.
Whereas in earlier days this study was just for a select few, like the Vilna and the Baal Shem Tov, his teaching dominate Torah and state that in generations the coming of the Moshiach is a obligation to reveal to the world the Hidden secret and wisdom of the Torah.
Emunah and Yiras HaShem
Mitzvos temidiyos, the two most foundational of these are Emunah( faith) and Yiras HaShem which means awareness of HaShem.
The first Aseres HaDibros, is the one we heard directly from HaShem as a nation, commanded us,אני ה' אלוקיך ,I am HaShem, you G-d. The knowledge of HaShem, having faith in Him as the creator of the world, is the foundation of all of Torah and Yiddishkeit. This applies to all times, during our walking hours and also when we sleep. From the moment we are born, until the moment we leave this world.
We must keep emunah in HaShem. As the Gemara teaches, we can learn from the pasuk, צדיק בשמך יחיה,the righteous person shall live through faith.
Yiras HaShem is the core of our lives,Shlomo HaMelech teaches,G-d has acted so that man should stand in awe of Him. Everything in this world is intended to bring us to a greater awareness of HaShem.
Paying to the smallest attention, to the world around us, should create awareness of HaShem. All we have to do is open our eyes and we will see, open our ears and we will hear and when we listen very closely, we will hear and see.
Dovid HaMelech states, ראשית חכמה יראת חי, the beginning of wisdom is fear of HaShem.,the pasuk warns us, take care lest you forget HaShem, your G-d.
How often should we be thinking of HaShem?
Rambam states most powerfully; Until it happens that his soul is so bound up in love of HaShem, that he dwells on it all the time. Rambam quotes the pasuk; For I am sick with love, love of HaShem, thinking about HaShem, living with HaShem.
Rambam teaches that one of the main reasons the Chamchamim established 100 daily brachos, so that we remember HaShem always.
But how do we keep HaShem constantly in our awareness?
First, by learning Torah, which is fundamentally HaShem speaking to us, and secondly by davening to HaShem, this is talking us to Him. Both should be done all of the time. All of our waking hours, when we sleep in our bed, when we walking the streets. Which is a awesome oppertunity to think in learning, or to daven to HaShem is our mammeh Lashon, or in appreation of the beauty of the world He created.
Every Mitzvah that we do, from Chesed to shaking the Lulav, gives us the oppotunity to come close to HaShem.
When we go out to the Sukkah, the Sukkah is called " The shade of Emunah " the idea is that a person is to go out of his home to live outside, under the shade of his Emunah in HaShem. Just as Klal Yisroel in the midbar lived with Emunah in HaShem, so do we to relive that experience as we leave our homes with Sukkos.
Hilchos Teshuvah 10:3,
Hilchos Berachos 1:3-4