If You Learned Only for Yourself…

BY AARON RAZEL

There is a Torah that I think about a lot before I begin to learn, to attach myself to Klal Yisrael.

A Chassid once strolled into the beit midrash at nine or ten in the morning, relaxed, with a towel around his neck  after having gone to the mikvah. A Jew who was sitting there in the beit midrash said to him: “Now you’re coming? I’ve been here learning since before sunrise! Do you know how many dapim (pages) of Gemara I’ve learned already?

The Chassid answered: “A Jew is obligated to learn on behalf of all of Am Yisrael. Either way – if you learned Torah on behalf of all of Am Yisrael, then you have also learned on my behalf, and therefore I have also learned. And if you learned only for yourself – what kind of learning is that? What kind of Torah is that?”

 

Aaron Razel is a writer, composer and artist. His twelve albums include songs like “Ha’Sneh Bo’er” (The Burning Bush) and “Zman Ha’Geulah” (The Time of Redemption) that have become part of the broader cultural landscape of Israel. He lives in the Nachlaot neighborhood of Jerusalem with his wife and children. This essay was originally published in Hebrew in his book “HaChayim k’Niggun” (Life as a Niggun).

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