Talmud Torah: Learning for Life
The Mitzvah: Every man, no matter his personal set of circumstances, has
to designate fixed periods of time to the study and learning of Torah. The
mitzvah of Talmud Torah, study of Torah is of paramount importance as a
father is also entrusted with teaching his children its words and values.
Of all activities in Jewish life, the highest esteem is accorded to the
study of Torah. To the extent that frenetic schedules are deferred. A Jew
has to “make his Torah fixed and all other business secondary” – because
it supersedes everything else. In the words of the Mishnah (Peah) Talmud
torah kneged kulom, “Torah study is equal to all other mitzvos”. Its
precious words are treasured; its laws are sacrosanct; its scholars
honored and revered.
In fact, Torah goes to the heart of “what it means to be a Jew”. Or to
quote the famous statement of Rabbi Saadia Gaon: “The Jewish nation is a
nation only by virtue of the Torah” (Rav Saadiah Gaon). It is the Chosen
People’s timeless heritage through the ages from the time they accepted it
at the foot of Sinai. And study it they have – with relentlessly passion,
with personal sacrifice, with vigor and fervor. And this “addiction” to
Torah, as a continuous pursuit lasting throughout a Jew’s life span, has
not been abandoned despite all his foes’ attempts to separate him from his
Rather, he has fully immersed himself in the sea of Torah. He has drunk
its delicious words. And he has never been satiated. Nor has his
enthusiasm waned through the generations, pledging to teach this wisdom to
his children and his commitment to guarantee its continuity – whatever it
And every time that a Jew studies Torah, every today, it is as if he is at
that very moment experiencing the momentous Divine Revelation of Sinai and
his acceptance of Torah (See Nefesh HaChaim 4).
How is this to be understood? And what can explain this lifelong obsession
The supernatural effort to study Torah– lays stress not so much on the
mastery of Torah, which is impossible because of its breadth and depth,
but on the “effort” expended in its labor and toil.
This is because, as the blueprint of creation, Torah is the “soul” of
existence. Moreover, it is that which defines and perpetuates existence.
And only in its continual study, is the continued sustainability of the
universe assured. Were Torah learning to cease for but one moment, were
the soul to be removed from the physical body, the world would collapse.
This parallels Sinai, where the Jewish nation was threatened that if they
would not embrace the Torah, then everything would turn into null and void
Torah is how mankind is able to tap into the metaphorical Divine Mind.
Its divine wisdom is the wherewithal of how to relate to G-d. There is no
more powerful medium for man to attach himself to his Creator than in
poring over His wisdom inscribed in the Torah. Thus, the toil of Torah
learning is “itself” the glue through which man binds himself to his
It is their existence. It is their national lifeline. For Torah, as
compared to water, is the embodiment of life and existence. Indeed, the
Jew invests his very life force – in its entirety - in the toil of Torah.
He realizes his study and observance is not optional; it is essential. And
it fully justifies its ardent pursuit by Jews of all ages.
His learning is related to life itself. Learning for life indeed!
Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene and Torah.org.