Monday, November 17, 2008

Question & Answer With Long Beach Chasid - Torah Lishma

(Picture by swa5000)

A Simple Jew asks:

When you are learning Torah, when would you categorize your learning as not Torah lishma?

Long Beach Chasid answers:

My Torah learning evolves like all other aspects of my Avodas Hashem. As a Baal Teshuva most of my time is spent changing my lifestyle to that of a Torah Observant Jew and constantly learning and perfecting my understanding of what is required of me from HaKodesh Baruch Hu.

When I learn the halachas of Shabbos for example, this learning is in a sense selfish because I'm learning it so I can properly keep Shabbos. Same goes with daily halachos and most of Orach Chayim. There are also situations which my yetzer hora thrives off of, such as being publicly embarrassed. Once in a conversation I disagreed with someone and they responded in front of people "Look I've been doing this a lot longer than you have buddy..." I thought to myself for a moment how I couldn't wait to go to Kollel this coming year so I could know more than him. Baruch Hashem, I snapped back into reality realizing how foolish such a notion was and that if I learned Torah for the sake of itself and Hashem, then I wouldn't be in such situations to begin with and if I was, they wouldn't affect me the same way.

So far it sounds like none of my Torah learning, is Lishma but Baruch Hashem there is one area of Torah learning that I feel I learn for its own sake, and that is the ma'amarim of the Sfas Emes. For almost two years, my Rav and I, along with others, have learned his ma'amarim on Chumash and this will be the third time I have learned Parshas Lech Lecha. We use an English translation of part of the ma'amarim but now Baruch Hashem I have enough understanding of the writing style of the Sfas Emes, that we learn it from the original ma'amarim. I learn these for the simple joy of understanding the Torah deeper with the only possible motive of having something nice to give over at the Shabbos table. I hope that as I continue to grow as a person and continue in my Torah learning that I can obtain such a righteous level as the Torah lishma that Pirke Avos (ch.6) speaks about, meriting much joy from this world. We should all be blessed to serve Hashem at such a level and to merit the coming of Moshiach. Amen.


At November 17, 2008 at 9:11:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to me that most of your learning is Torah Lishma.
When a person learns in order to know what to do it is certainly Torah Lishma.

At November 17, 2008 at 10:16:00 AM EST, Blogger Long Beach Chasid said...

I feel that Torah Lishma is a higher level than simply learning Torah to know what is expected of me from Hashem. Isn't Torah Lishma a level of learning that is void of ulterior motive?

At November 17, 2008 at 1:29:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a well-known machlokes between Chassidim and Misnagdim about the definition of Torah lishmoh, which bears directly on this.

At November 17, 2008 at 1:35:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is written in Pirkei Avos:

"Rabbi Meir says: Whoever engages in the study of Torah for its own sake merits many things," (6:1)

The ArtScroll Mishnah (Pirkei Avos) mentions various definitions of Torah study for its own sake, including the following definition:

According to Shelah (Maseches Shevuos) and Reishis Chochmah (Introduction), studying Torah "for its own sake" means studying for the purpose of knowing the laws of the Torah so that one can practice the mitzvos properly.

In his commentary on the above teaching of Rabbi Meir in Pirkei Avos, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch writes:

"To occupy oneself with Torah lishmah (Torah for its own sake) means to study it thoroughly and for one purpose only; that is, to discern from it the will of G-d, and to do G-d's will by fulfilling it oneself and teaching it to others."

Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen

At November 17, 2008 at 1:36:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Snag: What is the main difference in their approaches?


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