We all want our prayers to be accepted by Hashem. We want to be counted among those who fear and love Him. We want to develop good middot, holiness, and purity. One prerequisite will bring all of these...
Translated from Rabbi Arush’s feature article in the weekly Chut shel Chessed newsletter. The articles focus on his main message: “Loving others as yourself” and emuna.
That’s All Fine and Good, But…
Dvir didn’t hesitate to submit his candidacy for the highly desirable job that he had seen advertised in a newspaper: the head of the software development team in a famous company. And indeed, he received a phone call from the company’s personnel department in response.
It was the recruiter, who wanted to find out what the candidate’s qualifications were so that he could start the winnowing process.
Dvir started to explain that he was hardworking, loyal, a fast learner, and had a strong work ethic alongside excellent interpersonal relationships and administrative capabilities. But the recruiter wanted to go straight to the point: What experience do you have in software development?
If the company’s representative had been a bit ruder, then when Dvir replied that he had no experience, and to tell the truth, he didn’t even have the basic knowledge, he would have reprimanded him harshly for having wasted his time, before slamming down the phone on him.
But the representative was a bit gentler and more humane, and he took the trouble to explain to Dvir that all the qualities that he mentioned were indeed important, and that he was indeed interested in his workers having such qualities, but the gateway and the prerequisites for the job are the relevant knowledge and experience.
And since you do not have the knowledge, not to mention experience – there’s nothing to talk about…
We all want to be “accepted” by Hashem Yitbarach, to be liked by him. We want our prayers to be accepted; we want to be counted among the people who fear G-d and love Him. And we need to adorn ourselves with a great many good middot (character traits), holiness, and tahara (purity) – but there is also a prerequisite. A gateway. Our gateway is learning Torah bechoach (with strength)!
Rabbi Nachman mentions in his writings all the good middot and everything that is needed to be a servant of Hashem, but his main book opens with the concept of Torah study bechoach, and he explains at length that that is the gateway to all the light of wisdom, to the tikkun of the malchut dekedusha (the holy Kingship), to being saved from the yetzer hara (evil inclination) and to finding favor in Hashem’s eyes and having one prayers accepted.
Every Jew, and especially a Jew whose ambition is to be an oved Hashem (servant of Hashem), must know that the gateway to Judaism is Torah study. And not just any Torah study, but Torah study bechoach.
Rabbi Nachman tells you that if you want to be a chassid in general, and a chassid of his in particular, then there is a prerequisite: a deep and meaningful connection to Torah.
What is Bechoach?
There are several meanings to this phrase. The first meaning is the simple one: to make an effort to understand the Torah. The Torah is not a novel, and it is certainly not a book of incantations that one just has to mumble. The Torah is deep ideas that require effort to truly understand.
Torah study bechoach means that you want to understand the Torah, with the goal being to keep the mitzvot. To understand the true intention of everything, to come to the right conclusions, to know the practical halachot, and to implement them in your life.
And that is true for any person, on any level.
The in-depth study doesn’t belong only to those who are studying the Gemara and the halachic (religious law) rulings down the ages, and not only to the top students in yeshivas. Everything one learns, be it Chumash with Rashi or halachot, Mishna or Gemara, or any book of mussar and chassidut – all these can be understood superficially, but it is also possible to ask questions and search for the depth of the meaning according to your level.
In addition, Torah study bechoach also means effort in terms of time: To learn at night when you come home from work tired, to give up sleep for the sake of study – that is Torah study bechoach. It comes with significant effort – not a simple thing.
Torah study bechoach means also having set times for study, which are not to be changed for any price, and that means, of course, to learn also on busy, turmoil-filled days. Even on days when it seems impossible to find the time to learn, you cancel everything else, because Torah is above all.
Women: What is Your Zechut (Merit)?
And here we turn to Beit Yaakov – to the women, who sacrifice themselves and send the husbands to learn Torah. You have no idea how much strength you can give your husbands when you send them to learn Torah and are happy when they leave the house or don’t come home immediately after work, going to learn instead.
This may certainly be considered as Torah bechoach on your part, because wouldn’t it be nice to have your husbands spent more time with you in the evenings? But you give up this most precious thing, because you want the light of Torah to shine in your home; you want the children to know what’s the most important thing in life; you want a light that will increase your favor in each other’s eyes and will merit true shalom bayit; a light that will increase your favor in the eyes of Hashem so that your prayers will be accepted with love and willingness; and a light that will increase the children’s favor in the eyes of the world, so that all who see them will recognize that they are children blessed by Hashem, and they will be successful in acquiring Torah and fear of Heaven, which are the only pleasures and the only happiness in this world.
In the same teaching with which Rabbi Nachman starts his book, he mentions another advantage of learning Torah bechoach, and that is to be saved from the most dangerous yetzer hara.
Because the most dangerous yetzer hara is that which dresses up as mitzvot, and after it traps a person, it makes the person truly crazy – these are the words of Rabbi Nachman! – and then it can do whatever it pleases with a person.
We see good, honest, nice people who at some stage or other in their lives lose their lives – materially and spiritually. In our generation, the yetzer hara is having a party, so to speak, and is causing many casualties. We have no Iron Dome and protection from the constant bombardments of the yetzer hara – the only thing that can help us is the holy Torah that protects us and saves us from all material and spiritual dangers.
And, of course, one needs tefilla (prayer). The Gemara tells how the people of Alexandria asked Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya: “What should a person do to become wise?” He replied: “He should spend much time learning and less time doing business.” They then said to him: “Many people did this, and it did not work for them.” He said to them: “They should ask for mercy from He Who the wisdom is His.”
And the Gemara says unequivocally: “One without the other doesn’t work.”
In other words, both things – Torah and tefilla – are dependent on each other. Whoever learns much and spends only a small amount of his time doing business but doesn’t pray – will not be successful in his Torah; and, whoever prays that he will be able to learn but doesn’t learn in actuality, he too won’t be successful. One must learn and pray.
And there is no better time than these days, when we are receiving the Torah, both before the holiday of the Giving of the Torah and on the holiday itself and in the days after it – to pray that we will be merit the light of Torah, merit to labor in Torah, merit to have set times for learning Torah and have a correct understanding of Torah.
And all this alongside commitments to increase our Torah classes, our study sessions, our daf yomi, and any Torah study that we can add to our daily schedules.
May Hashem Yitbarach grant us the ability to labor in Torah truly, learn Torah with all our might, every person according to his level and status, and to add more Torah. And in the merit of that we will be able to enter the King’s palace and be counted among Hashem’s servants and lovers.