An important lesson in life is that the key to success in life is the willingness to work hard. If we wish to succeed in the various roles that we play as human beings, there is no substitute for hard work. If we want to be good parents, a good spouse, or even a good friend, it takes tireless dedication and commitment. If one looks for shortcuts or for the easier path, in the long run it will take its toll in the various relationships in which we are involved.
Another truth about life is that nothing of lasting value comes easy. This is particularly true about Torah study. The Rabbis say that three things are acquired with difficulty: The Land of Israel, the Next World (Olam Haba), and Torah study. These are three very precious acquisitions that require an incredible determination in order to gain merit. It is the study of Torah that is so special and unfortunately, so misunderstood.
The Rabbis describe Torah study as one of those Mitzvot that we gain pleasure in this world and reward in the next world. There is a Torah commandment to study Torah as it is learned from the words, “And you shall teach your children.” How can we teach our children if we don’t study ourselves. Therefore, there is great emphasis on the necessity to study Torah on a daily basis.
How unfortunate it is that upon asking high school yeshiva students what their most boring subject is, the study of Talmud usually gets the highest vote. Yet, for centuries, those who truly understand the amazing wisdom contained in it, find Talmudic study the main endeavor that elevates a person spiritually and connects him not only to G-d but to earlier generations of Torah giants. As the years of study increases, the absolute awe for the sensitivities and wisdom contained in it, continue to astound the student.
The reason for this contrast between the high school student and the Talmudic scholar is twofold. First, instructors can make talmudic study more interesting by choosing subjects that are more relevant to students who are just being introduced to its study. But more importantly, it must be emphasized that this study has so much depth and value, and if one wants to be able to fully appreciate it, he has to trust that it’s worth the effort, and with the years, he will have entered a world that teaches what one’s priorities ought to be and how to live life to the fullest. One must remind himself that nothing of value comes without hard work. Torah study is no exception.
It is not only the study of Talmud that is so meaningful. Rabbis tend to be misunderstood and often they are being belittled unfairly. When we understand the role of the rabbis from a historical perspective and from the aspect that they were charged with protecting, safeguarding, and interpreting the Torah by G-d Himself on Mount Sinai, one might look at things a little differently. It was the task of the rabbis during the most trying and painful times, to maintain spiritual and economic stability in the Jewish community.
When one studies the analysis and concerns of the Sages, it is absolutely astounding. What began in the Talmud during the period of the Tannaim and Amoraim, continued through the Geonic period and Medieval times to this day. If one studies the endless volumes of precedent setting cases known as “Responsa,” one further gains an appreciation of what rabbinical wisdom really is.
For those who dedicate their lives to Torah study, as we all should, he has entered a world that simply makes life worth living. Aside from gaining a great deal of peace of mind, one will learn how to cope with all of life’s trials and tribulations. He will have the tools to better understand human nature and become a productive member of society.
Torah study is such a special and important part of Jewish life. Like anything of value, it comes with dedication and hard work. There is no intellectual study that compares for it contains so much divine wisdom. For those of you who think they’ve tried it and it didn’t speak to them, they should give it another look. The joy and contentment will be there if one keeps working at it.