Thursday, May 3, 2012

324 - Achrei Mos - Kedoshim

"You shall observe My decrees and My laws which a person should perform, and through them he shall live - I am Hashem" (Vayikra 18, 5). Rav Wolbe explains (Alei Shur vol II. pg. 266) that the Torah is referring not to physical living, but rather to spiritual living. The performance of mitzvos enables us to live more spiritually elevated lives than the gentile nations.

He cites the Gemara in Makkos (10a) regarding one who accidentally kills another person and is forced to run to a city of refuge: "'He shall run to one of these cities and he will live' - Create for him a situation whereby he can live i.e. when a student is exiled (to a city of refuge) his Rebbi should be exiled along with him."  When the Torah refers to life, it is referring to life in a spiritual sense. The Rambam (Hil. Rotzeiach 7, 1) expresses this idea succinctly when quoting the above halacha: "When a student is exiled to a city of refuge, we send his Rebbi into exile along with him as the Torah writes, 'and he will live" do for him something whereby he will live. And for those who seek wisdom, without Torah they are as if they are dead."

Rav Wolbe continues that it is very possible that a person can amass great amounts of Torah knowledge, but nevertheless, does not "live with the Torah."How can one succeed in attaining a level whereby the Torah becomes part of his very life? The answer is as follows: Just as physical life cannot tolerate interruptions - a heart that stops beating for even a matter of minutes can no longer be resuscitated, so too, a Torah life does not tolerate interruption. 

The Torah writes, "And you shall speak in [Torah] when you sit in your house, when you travel, when you lie down and when you wake up." How can one be constantly involved in Torah? This can only be accomplished if he is thinking about the Torah even when a sefer is not in front of him. The more one thinks about the Torah, the more it becomes part and parcel of him until it ultimately becomes literally his life.

This is the ultimate goal. However, practically, it is nearly impossible to be thinking about Torah when one is speaking to another person, involved in his work or driving a car. Yet, there are many more opportunities during the day that lend themselves to spiritual thinking. Instead of letting our minds wander, we can use the time productively to review something we learned, consider the possibilities of performing chessed, think about an upcoming Yom Tov, or contemplate the significance of the days of Sefiras Ha'Omer. Torah isn't relegated to the time one sits in front of an open sefer; Torah is our very life.

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