“If you follow my statutes and observe my commandments and perform them” (26; 3)
In this weeks parsha, Hashem tells klal Yisroel that if we follow in His ways and His mitzvos then He promises us an abundance of berachos. After listing all the brochos, the Torah continues and says-however, “if you despise My statutes and reject My ordinances, by not performing any of My commandments, thereby breaking My covenant then I too, will do the same to you”. Should we not listen to Hashem chas v’shalom. then the tochacha mentioned in the parsha will befall us.
Rashi brings a well-known chazal that says ‘I would think the word ‘teileychu’ is referring to mitzvos-but since the pasuk continues and says “observe My commandments” it must be interpreted to mean ‘one should be amel in Torah; totally immersed in the holy books of Torah’.
Meforshim are bothered with three nekudos here. Firstly, why is amaylus b’Torah referred to as a chok? Secondly, the Ohr HaChaim Hakadosh points out, why does the Torah use a plural loshon of bechukosei? It could have said chuka? Lastly, why does it say taylaychu; why does the Torah use a loshon of ‘going’ of halicha?
Rashi later on, when describing those who despise the Torah, says (26; 15) ‘one thing will lead to another…first you will not learn, then you will hate those who do, then you’ll hate talmidei chachamim and then you will become a kofer.’ It’s a little hard to understand the chain of events that will actually occur. All this will happen just from someone not learning Torah? How can we understand this?
Perhaps we can say that we have a mitzvah to ‘learn’ Torah but amaylus b’Torah is something completely different than learning Torah. The gemarah says that it is possible for a person to fulfill his obligation of learning Torah by simply reciting the three parshiyos of krias shema. However, someone who toils in Torah demonstrates the appreciation he has for Torah. A person will not work hard on anything if he does not understand the greatness of what he is working towards. When the task is an easy one, although a person performs it, it does not show his appreciation for it. On the other hand when it is difficult to perform and one still performs it that shows his appreciation for what he is working towards.
Based on this, we can understand the following concept: The mishna in Avos states that Torah has to be acquired. We find that there are forty eight kinyanim of Torah. The mishna uses the loshon of acquire. What is the significance of using the word acuire? In Choshen Mishpat 232; 18 we pasken the following: Reuvan buys a sheet of metal for his roof from a goy, thinking it is metal. He then sells it to Shimon for a reasonable price. When Shimon opens it up he realizes it wasn’t just metal but there was silver inside too. When Reuvan finds out he takes Shimon to beis din for he feels that he should be compensated more for his sale; the p’sak is that Shimon doesn’t have to pay him the price of silver. The reason is that when Reuvan purchased it he acquired it from the goy thinking it was metal. He thought he was being koneh something metal. Since he only acquired it as metal he in essence never owned a piece of silver; he acquired a piece of metal thus making the sale price the correct price.
We see from here that a person can only acquire something if he appreciates its value. Otherwise it’s not considered his. If a person works hard by toiling in Torah, he is going to have the proper appreciation for Torah that will indicate he will follow the Torah properly. He understands that the Torah is his guide for life. A person who is not amel in Torah shows that he doesn’t appreciate Torah for what its worth. Such a person will eventually start straying. Once a person doesn’t understand that his guidelines are set, and that the Torah sets the borders, he will veer off. Once he does so, the opportunities for aveiroes are endless.
Reb Aron Kotler, Zt”l says that to “toil in Torah” isn’t limited to sitting in front of a gemarah. It’s also getting out of bed early or leaving the house at night with difficulty and tiredness to go learn; that’s also considered being amel in Torah. Anything difficult-a night daf, interrupting a Shabbos nap to learn-is all considered to be amel b’torah.
A person who is amel in Torah exceeds his natural scope of knowledge-which has no logical explanation (a chok) and comprehends more than he ever would have naturally, not just in Torah but in all aspects of yiddishkeit (bechukosei). Such a person is continuously growing; moving and heading in the right direction (taylaychu). May we all be zoche to be amelim b’Torah.
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