HaGaon HaRav Moshe Hillel Hirsch’s, shlita, Keynote Address at the 2014 Acheinu International Kiruv Conference

I only wish to say a few words to preface my remarks in short. We are gathered here tonight to sharpen and clarify the methods of how to bring the sweetness of Torah to bochurim, as we have heard in the manner of Aharon HaKohen, “Oheiv es habriyos umekarvan laTorah,” that “Love people,” and “bring them close to Torah,” go together.

 

Certainly, one of the ways to do this is to impress upon the bochurim, to internalize in them, the chashivus HaTorah, the importance of Torah. I wish to address here in brief three points in reference to chashivus HaTorah.

One: what is the reason that chashivus HaTorah is so important? Two: how to internalize this point in the bochurim, and Three: how we can cause the bochurim to be receptive, klei kibul, to the message of the importance of Torah?

 

The reason it is imperative to appreciate the importance of Torah is that in order for a person to grow in Torah, for a person to make the special and very great effort that is demanded to absorb and understand Torah SheBe’Al Peh, there must be a formidable aspiration to it. Only one who has the aspiration can make the effort; one who does not, cannot.

 

The aspiration comes when a person understands the importance of Torah, and inevitably there is a desire to be great in Torah. This gives him the strength to make the effort, even at the time when he studies.

 

This is necessary because there are times when a person can go through an entire approach to a sugya and then realize that his approach may be faulty. He could resolve it in some forced way, which he knows not to be the truth. One who appreciates the importance of Torah and wants to know the truth, knows that if it is not the truth – it is nothing. To be great in Torah one must aspire to know and recognize the truth in Torah, and this comes from chashivus HaTorah, the importance of Torah. It is imperative that a bochur should not to be embarrassed to ask his friend, to ask his Rav. To ensure this there must be a sense of chashivus HaTorah.

 

It is also necessary for there one to experience the enjoyment of the sweetness of Torah,. This too comes from chashivus HaTorah. Not every sugya has the intellectual aspect, the chochmah, for which one could have the enjoyment of the purely intellectual. In many sugyos this is difficult; it requires much hard work. If a person knows he is doing something so important, he will have enjoyment. He will enjoy the very fact that he has done something important and significant. And then there is enjoyment; then there is the sweetness of Torah. There would be no sweetness in Torah if it had not been important.

 

How do we bring the chashivus HaTorah, to bochurim?

 

The first and principal way is through personal example.

 

Obviously, a bochur must see that the Rav doesn’t simply waste his time idly. But there is something else.

 

In Parshas Devarim, Moshe Rabbeinu rebukes Klal Yisrael and says that they had asked him to choose for them wise, well-known, and understanding men as judges. He rebukes them and says their intention was not for good. Because they thought that if they chose someone else, other than Moshe, they could do something the judges would not understand.

 

And how do I know this, says Moshe Rabbeinu. Because when I told you to appoint judges, you should have answered, Moshe our teacher, from whom is it appropriate that should we learn, from you or from your students? Should it not be from you who pained yourself over it?  We should learn Torah from you because we saw how much you troubled yourself for it, you did not eat, you did not drink. That how he knew they were not sincere.

 

Chazal say there were talmidei chachomim who absolutely knew the entire Torah. But Moshe Rabbeinu said, you knew that I have something that cannot be found by anyone else: I pained myself over the Torah.

What is it to pain oneself over the Torah?

It results in one who knows chashivus HaTorah. One who suffers for something shows it is much more important to him than for one who does not suffer for it. The chashivus HaTorah was felt by Moshe Rabbeinu more than by anybody else.

And what did Moshe Rabbeinu do that indicated the his chashivus HaTorah?

It was not his bekius in Torah; but that he would tell over the Torah, with geshmak. That is the chashivus HaTorah.

 

I remember a bochur once told me that he learned by Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro, zt”l, who was the Rosh HaYeshiva in Be’er Yaakov. He described to me how he gave the shiur with such hislahavus, with so much excitement, with a geshmak. I saw then how the chashivus HaTorah had entered him and internalized within him.

R’ Yitzchok Hutner, zt”l, would say (he mentioned this it in his hesped for Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l,)  – that when Rav Aharon spoke he would bring the conversation around to Torah. When he spoke words of Torah, he said it with such regard, such chashivus, so much simchah and excitement, that it caused for him a sense of the chashivus HaTorah.

 

The students get the message when they see the way a person speaks, and delivers a shiur, with joy, simchah, and excitement, that he himself feels how that which he says is important.

Beyond this, it’s a known rule that talmidim very much love to hear the stories that the magid shiur tells about himself. The magid shiur tells over what he saw by his teachers, who today are no longer in this world. For the students today, these are legends about the heroes of the previous generation. They hear stories about them, told over by eyewitnesses; this causes a great effect and influence on them, to hear about their teacher’s experience, how happy he was, how he felt the importance of Torah, what it gave to him.

 

That is chashivus HaTorah.

Obviously, beyond that, we must teach them something else. We have to teach the bochurim something even before chashivus HaTorah. There are many bochurim that simply do not at all know the value of havanas HaTorah.

There are many bochurim who think that yedias HaTorah, knowing Torah, is of value, but fail to appreciate the value of havanas Hatorah, lomdus, iyun. They think that it is something that can sharpen the mind, but believe that it is not what HaKadosh Baruch Hu wants. This is something I have seen by experience, by many bochurim. They do not have the sense of the importance of Torah in reference to understanding Torah as much as in comparison to yedias HaTorah. They think it is only important to know the Torah.

 

We need to educate them, to teach the correct hashkafah, the correct perspective. We must teach them that which is written in Sefarim such as, Rabeinu Yonah, and the Ramchal, about chashivus HaTorah.

 

How can we make a bochur an appropriate keli to receive Torah?

Not every bochur can be a kli kibul, a receptacle for Torah. To be an appropriate receptacle for Torah, a bochur must be one who has some connection to ruchaniyus. One who is coarse, and materialistic, and who has no connection to spirituality, cannot have any feeling of chashivus HaTorah. He can say the words, he can know the hashkafah and the intellectual side of it, but he has no feeling whatsoever of the importance of Torah if he is megusham – sunken in the material.

We need to bring Yiras Shomayim to the bochurim. Through this, there is some connection to ruchniyus, so that they can receive and accept something.

Besides this, we need to teach bochurim midos tovos, fine character. Rabbeinu Yonah explicitly says a great rule: “A person must first correct and perfect himself with midos, and in this the Torah will rest upon him. For it will never dwell in a body that is not a ba’al midos tovos.”

 

Why will it not dwell upon such a person? Because the Torah is ruchni, spiritual. That which is spiritual can never dwell in a body that is non-spiritual. Such a person cannot accept and receive the chashivus HaTorah. The concept of the importance of Torah, and the sweetness of Torah, cab only be seen by one who has a connection to the spiritual.

 

So we must bring in the spiritual to our students, to bring in Yiras Shomayim, midos tovos, we must speak about minimizing tayvos.

 

These are the ways, the methods that we need to implement, to bring into the bochurim the sense of the importance of Torah. And if we do this, if they know the importance of Torah, they will succeed.

If we internalize it through personal example, through stories, through that which is in sefarim, and bring it into a bochur so that he will become a klei kibul, a receptacle, there will be a great success and hatzlachah. The bochur will have a great cheshek “” desire “” to learn, and grow, and bisiyata deshamaya, to be great in Torah, and become a Gadol BiYisrael.