Learning Torah (Part 1)
Life is short, and it is up to you to make it sweet!
(Sarah Louise Delany)
“Blessed are You, Hashem, our
The word that the blessing uses in Hebrew for “being occupied” (in learning Torah) is “la’asok.” Rabbi David HaLevi Segal, known as the Turei Zahav (or the Taz for short) after his seminal work on the Code of Jewish Law, and one of the most eminent authorities in sixteenth century Poland, explains that the word “la’asok” carries with it the inference that it is something that requires much toil to achieve. Due to its incomparable depth and breadth, learning Torah in a comprehensive and thorough fashion requires extraordinary levels of concentration and an intensity that is second to none. The wording of the blessing is teaching us that learning Torah successfully requires an ability to block out the countless distractions that are forever encroaching on our lives. The word “la’asok” emphasizes that it is not easy to reach such exalted levels. But the word “la’asok” is also teaching us that such singular focus is a requirement for reaching proficiency in understanding Torah.
The essential concept of toiling over Torah study can be seen in
Without both an overwhelming desire to learn Torah, and the power to block out every single extraneous distraction, there is no way that a person can reach the kind of levels of scholarship that create the potential for becoming an acknowledged Torah leader. Binyamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, related that on several occasions he came to discuss extremely weighty and sensitive matters with Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef (1920-2013), one of the greatest Torah authorities in the generation. Among many other things, Rabbi Yosef was renowned for becoming so engrossed in his studies that he was completely unaware of what was happening around him. Mr. Netanyahu, who was always accompanied by close aides and a significant security contingent that was always the cause of much tumult, said that when they arrived, they would wait until Rabbi Yosef became aware that he was there. Sometimes it would take a few minutes, and, often, much longer, but the Prime Minister would not interrupt the Rabbi’s studies because he felt that Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef was dealing with the past, present and future of the Jewish People as he learned the precious Torah!
To be continued…..