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Shabbat Parashat Behar Bechukotai 5773

Ein Ayah: Combatting Lack of Appreciation for Torah

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:277)

Gemara: If you see a generation in which the Torah is beloved to the people, spread the Torah, as the pasuk says: “There is one who spreads forth and receives more” (Mishlei 11:24). If you see a generation in which the Torah is not beloved to the people, gather it, as the pasuk says: “It is a time to do for Hashem; forsake your Torah” (Tehillim 119:126).


Ein Ayah: Love of Torah depends mainly on the preparedness of the hearts to understand the Torah’s great value and recognize the success it brings to those who are involved in it and, through them, to the community at large. Getting to that point requires understanding many deep points of the Torah’s fundamental principles. Moral shortcomings exist when one has corrupted conceptions. This will plague a society if the generation’s intellectual leaders have warped understandings, causing an attitude that trickles down to corrupt society as a whole.

The most likely reason for a society to no lose love of Torah is its “life” has changed so that the ideas that spoke to previous generations no longer resonate with it. The new generation is unable to extract the internal messages from the same metaphorical coatings of the Torah that were previously meaningful.

The remedy for the situation is to concentrate on the major foundations of the Torah and arrive at deep understandings that can provide the generation’s intellectuals with an understanding and appreciation. This can, over time, fix their behavior and their attitude toward the Torah, which will also trickle down to the people. The type of deep study that is necessary to impact the intellectuals is not appropriate to share with common people. This what the gemara means by “gathering.” At a time when there is deterioration of appreciation of Torah, one should learn in private forums with the intellectuals. Spreading the words of Torah in the standard way, by giving simple inspirational speeches and rebuke, which are fit for simple people, are not the remedy, as the problem has to be addressed from its source.

“Gather” does not just refer to the limiting of the audiences of the Torah but also to concentrating on topics that are too deep for the average person. The “spreading” one does when the Torah is appreciated includes teaching things that may be rather simplistic and saying words of encouragement that even the non-intellectual type can digest. The Torah study may not be high in quality, but the great number of people who can be involved justifies the sacrifice. Out of the masses who will be inspired will emerge a cadre of people who are capable of learning on a high level, resulting in a gain in the qualitative realm, as well.

There will also be a phenomenon whereby secret esoteric elements of Torah, which usually should not be shared with more than a handful of people in a generation, will need to be taught to others. While simple people will not be included, the spirit that will pervade the intellectuals of society will impact on all. That is the matter of “it is a time to do for Hashem; forsake your Torah”. Just as that concept was used to allow the Oral Law to be written down for the needs of the time, so will it be necessary to teach certain topics that would otherwise remain secret, as Divine Providence mandates at that time.

This need to uncover elements of light specifically because people are in a downward spiritual trajectory is hinted at by Chazal’s statement on the pasuk, “My enemy should not be happy about me, for as I fell, I got up; as I sit in darkness, Hashem is my light” (Micha 7:8). The Rabbis learn that “had I not fallen, I would not have gotten up, and had I not sat in darkness, Hashem would not have been my light” (Shir Hashirim Rabba 6).


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