Studied closely and sincerely, Torah can be forever fresh and rich. The same
text that was simple and clear-cut one day is often uncanny and unexpected
the next. And nuances can suddenly pop up along the edges as quick ironies
come out of nowhere.
There are actually two reasons for that, though: either because we’re open
to new light and welcome it; or (truthfully) simply because we’d forgotten
yesterday’s lesson and so what’s actually old just seems new.
Now, while the second reason covers all areas of Torah study, it’s most
especially relevant when it comes to the sort of halacha and mussar study we
were advised to “specialize” in -- halacha, because it’s full of details and
applies differently in each circumstance; and Mussar, because it touches on
our characters which vary day to day and because its message comes upon us
from a different angle each time we try to apply it.
That’s why Ramchal warns that even when you study works of halacha and
mussar seriously and regularly as we were advised to do, you’ll manage to be
“surprised to see what you don’t know” often enough when you re-read it.
Take heart, though, because you can also wind up benefitting from that,
thanks to the first reason we cited about why you might forget what you’d
read: being open to new light. For as Ramchal puts it, when the moment comes
when “your heart is attuned to such things, you’ll … (suddenly start to)
observe everything from all angles” and catch sight of “things not mentioned
in the books themselves” if you’re open to them.
Now, while Ramchal’s main thrust in this chapter has been to advise us to
delve into halacha and mussar in order to truly internalize innocence, his
final point is that there are certain things that could prevent you from
acquiring it, despite your studies. They’re the same traits that can prevent
you from being cautious (see Ch. 5 above): over-concern for things of the
world, levity, and keeping bad company. So we’d need to be aware of those, too.