Sunday, May 9, 2010

"Shpitz Litvak!"

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov said: "I want my path to spread among the Litvishe hearts!" (Siach Sarfei Kodesh II:257)

Some ask: if we are focused on the ample rewards of Torah, why doesn’t this impinge on Torah l’shmah?
Perhaps the best answer to this question is found in the words of the Avnei Nezer, zt”l. “I heard that certain people ascribe to a grievous error regarding learning Torah. They claim that one who enjoys learning must be definition be learning with a lesser level of ‘l’shmah’ than a person who feels no pleasure in what he learns since the latter is only learning to fulfill the mitzvah, while the former also learns for the joy he feels in learning.
“This is a fallacy, since we find that the opposite is certainly true; the main mitzvah of learning Torah is to take delight and feel happiness in one’s learning. It is only Torah learned in this manner that truly penetrates to a person’s innermost being. This is explicit in the Zohar, which states that joy gives strength to one’s good inclination while depression and sadness feeds his inner urge for evil.
“Obviously, one who learns for pleasure without a thought of coming close to Hashem is still on the level of shelo l’shmah. But even regarding this person, our sages say, ‘Through learning not l’shmah, one comes to learn l’shmah.’”
When someone asked the Chazon Ish, zt”l, what he thought about this essential part of the Avnei Nezer’s approach to how one must learn, he replied, "דאס איז שפיץ ליטוואק"—“This is the essence of what it means to be a Litvak!”

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