Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Illumination from the Darkness

The statement in Yuma 57, that the Bavlim“live in a dark land, so their wisdom is dark,” seems at first glance to be a criticism. But Rav Tzaddok Hakohein from Lublin, zt”l, explains it differently. The Torah of Bavel was generated in the confused (mevulbal) darkness of exile, and soTalmud Bavli can only be grasped through much pain and effort. As the Zohar Hakadosh relates: “The only true illumination is that which comes from the darkness”—through toil and suffering.
Rav Yisroel Salanter, z”l, writes:“Don’t refrain from learning Torah even if you will have to give it up soon to go into business. Torah learning is different from other types of learning. With secular studies, the outcome of the study is what counts.But in Torah, the main thing is the effort that one expends. Each and every single day of learning is its own goal. Consider yourself like a day-laborer. Don’t worry about finishing the building—you work on a daily wage, and your main goal is to find paying work every single day.”
Rav Yerucham Levovitz, zt”l, once said: “If you were to place all the good ever done without difficulty on one side of a scale, and on the other side one small thing done with difficulty, the small thing outweighs all the rest!” Sometimes people would approach the Steipler, zt”l, for a berachah, that they should be relieved of their difficulties and challenges so they could learn with ease. He would respond, “It is impossible to really succeed without difficulties.The secret of success is overcoming the difficulties!” This is the true illumination that comes from the darkness.


Spiritual Dan said...

Amazing. Thank you for the inspiration.

Does Rav Yerucham Levovitz's statement apply to mitzvahs done without kavanah? Isn't there a machlokes there on good deeds done with intent and those done without.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the chizuk yet again!
Not sure I understand what you mean by your question but I will give it a try. (If I didn't get it, please let me know.)
A mitzvah done solely for non- spiritual purposes is truly worthless.The example given is one who gives charity on condition that his son gets well. An idolater is assumed to want only the result of giving the charity. If his son doesn't get well he wants a refund. A Jew is assumed to have at least a little feeling of compassion and wants to help the poor person. Even if his condition is not fulfilled he doesn't feel as though his money was wasted. This shows a drop of spiritual content to the deed and is a mitzvah.
As an aside, the idol worshiper discussed does not mean a non-Jew of today. The whole philosophy of idolatry was that one should only act selfishly (Maharal etc.) Today, many gentiles who gave charity in the above situation would not want a refund for their money and therefore get credit.
Rav Yerucham Levovitz said: "Even actions done thoughtlessly are also a level of yiras Shamayim."
Not a high level but a level.
There are sources that indicate that mitzvos done without kavanah don't protect from harm (I can who if you like) but not that they don't count at all.
This is especially true regarding difficult times. That's when every little effort counts for so much!
Hashem should help us value the little things!
I just realized what you may mean.
Perhaps you mean the argument if mitzvos need kavanah. That only means that the person while doing the action wishes to be doing a mitzvah, not that he is thinking much about what he is doing.
The Chayay Adam & Mishnah Berurah both say that one who does an action by rote but it is clear to all that he means to do a mitzvah (like waving a lulav in shul during Hallel) did the mitzvah even if it's all a complete blank to him.
I hope I answered your question one way or the other!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the explanation rav and for the teaching in general. These are very hard times. Confusion abounds and it is a struggle to remain positive, to find one's derech. I truly appreciate your and Yehudis' efforts.

Anonymous said...

It is our privilege and pleasure! Remeber: hard times are the most precious!
Hashem should help us keep searching for our true path and remember that one who ceases to search and yearn has surely lost the way!