To many bnei Torah, Rav Gershon Edelstein needs no introduction. Thousands of students and visitors flock regularly to this great gaon, rosh yeshivahof Ponovezh Yeshivah in Bnei Brak, for his warmth, wisdom, and pure Torah hashkafah. Now, with Rav Gershon Edelstein on the Torah in time for the new cycle of Chumash, you too can have access to this gadol!
This is a sefer that will help its readers grow and ascend the ladder of avodas Hashem, rung by rung. Not only will you find in it the Rosh Yeshivah’s many insights on the weekly parshah, you will also discover his sage guidance on fundamental topics, such as how to succeed in Torah learning, how to daven better, how to live with emunah, and how to incorporate avodas Hashem into our daily interactions with friends and family.
A treasure of a book for every Torah Jew!
Below is a short excerpt from Rav Gershon Edelstein on the Torah on Parshas Ha’azinu:
The Mesorah of Our Learning
The obligation of Torah study has two aspects: to know the Torah, and to learn with quality and understanding. To accomplish this, one must learn deeply and analytically (b’iyun) and with full concentration. One must toil if he wishes to comprehend what he learns.
Upon his arrival at the Ponevezh Yeshivah in 5708, my rebbi, Rabbi Dessler zt”l, explained (in the name of Rav Chaim Brisker zt”l)Chazal‘s interpretation of the words dvar Hashem bazah – “He has mocked the word of Hashem” (Bamidbar 15:31): “This refers to one who could learn Torah, but does not” (Sanhedrin 99a). He noted that this does not refer only to the quantity of one’s learning, but also to the quality. If a person has the capability to focus more intently on his studies, or to learn with greater clarity and understanding, he, too, is labeled as one who “has mocked the word of Hashem.” This is considered bittul Torah in terms of quality.
He connected this with the comment of the Alter of Slabodka zt”l regarding the Gemara that tells us that one who does not don tefillin is considered one of the poshei Yisrael b’gufam – “Jews who sin with their bodies” (Rosh Hashanah 17a). The Alter explained that this also refers to one who does don tefillin, but does not properly concentrate on the mitzvah. He, too, is considered having his head “devoid” of tefillin, as he is missing the kedushah that comes through this mitzvah.
The more focused one’s learning, the greater level of kedushah he will attain. I have previously related the story of an individual who desired to acquire the middah of ahavas Hashem. The advice he received was to learn Shev Shmaytsa. He was not told the rationale behind this piece of advice, but he followed the directive and found success. He began to daven with greater concentration, and his heart was closer to Hashem. After a while, he approached me and asked how to further his growth in this area of ahavas Hashem. I explained that he should continue learning in depth. This is because his previous success was due to his being fully absorbed in the learning of such a complex sefer. Because his attention was completely taken up by Torah, he attained a high level of kedushah, which comes through this connection to Torah.
And this is the way we all can ascend the ladder of ahavas Hashem – through learning with great concentration and with complete focus. Of course, this is not limited to Shev Shmaytsa. Any sefer will do. This includes learning Gemara with Rashi and Tosafos, Rishonimand Acharonim. If we will invest all our efforts in understanding the material, we will merit more holiness, and ascend in our level ofahavas Hashem.
This is a mandatory part of our obligation to learn Torah. We must learn with all our abilities and with complete concentration. If some levels of further depth are lacking in our learning, it will be deemed bittul Torah.
Rav Gershon Edelstein on the Torah will be available in Judaica bookstores shortly, or directly from Israel Bookshop after Yom Tov, please click here.