Halachah

613 · 5 · 122.6


+ 122 Torah Learning for the Creative Individual

Outstanding people who are involved in Torah and who have a talent and inner predilection for ethical and poetic studies, for high thoughts and exalted wisdom, may not suppress or nullify that great desire.

They must broaden it and make it great. They must every day engage in Torah learning that is broad and that transmits knowledge, wisdom and ability.

Such people must dedicate most of their talent to such learning. They should not worry that this dedication may force them to curtail their practical Torah learning, leading them to satisfy themselves with learning that is easy, short and straight, allowing them to simply know the halachah and its reasoning clearly, and allowing them to simply clarify everything in its time with the calm learning of breadth of knowledge in (a) halachah, (b) the basic Talmud discussions and (c) the various approaches of the sages.

This will not keep them from being sharp. True Torah sharpness is naturally born of this learning [mentioned above] of itself, and appears when it is needed.

One does not need to work hard and spend a great deal of time on pilpul. As it is, most pilpul is intended for those [who, not being poetic,] turn to it to fulfill the thirst of their soul for the breadth of Torah and powerful intellectual freedom.

A little pilpul is always good, even for those who are mostly involved in very spiritual matters; but the basic concern of these sensitive souls must be “to open the eyes of the blind; to bring the prisoner out of the jail; to take the man sitting in darkness out of his cell” (Is. 42:7).

Eder Hay’kar, p. 140


+ 96 Halachah and Aggadah

by Haim Lifshitz

Once, a man close to Rav Kook confided in him, “My son does not have a great desire to learn Torah.”

Rav Kook replied, “When I was young, I also did not have a great desire to learn the halachah. My heart was drawn after aggadah. And by learning aggadah, I came to learn halachah. I advise you to teach your son aggadah. As a result, he will also come to learn halachah.”

And so it was.

Shivchei Harayah, p. 180


+ 145 The Plain of Halachah and Aggadah

When we begin to take steps upon the plain of halachah and aggadah, a multitude beyond number of unions and harmonies beyond number is drawn out. The universes of heaven and earth, humanity of the flesh and humanity of ideas, with all the wealth hidden in each of them, are then unified. They bring each other to the wished?for action that leads toward complete growth and perfection.

This connection is nothing less than the revelation of the unity that had been hidden within them from the very beginning.

Whoever has not tasted the flavor of halachah has not tasted the flavor of Torah. And whoever has not tasted the flavor of aggadah has not tasted the flavor of­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ fear of sin.

Torah and fear of sin must always accompany one another. The service of Torah learning must be methodically revealed, in an active form, upon this unifying basis—one whose results are very great.

In truth, aggadah always contains a halachic essence. Similarly, halachah contains an inner agaddic content. In the main, the content of aggadah is found in the qualitative form of halachah. And the content of halachah is found in the quantitative form of aggadah. Even without any particular search or awareness, when we learn halachah, we are touched by its hidden content of aggadah; and, when we learn aggadah, we are touched by the pulse of halachah that is folded into the content of the aggadah.

However, not everyone has a properly keen awareness of these two streams—each of which is constantly filled with the content of the other. An alienation between these worlds, which are in essence so joined and twinned together, leads to an unhealthy separation in the nature of deep study and its broadening. It constricts these two areas—halachic and the aggadic—to a narrow arena.

We must clearly bring forth the meeting of these two forces in a rectified form, when each will make the other_s content exceedingly fragrant. Each will profoundly aid the other to bring forth its details and to shine a more brilliant light upon its own general appearance and upon the depth of its own internal logic and what that embraces. The scent of aggadah must make halachah fragrant, in a measure that is well?reasoned and fitting. And aggadah must be given its worth within a framework, with set laws and a clear, defined logic—like the form of a strengthened halachah. With this, the power and freshness of both will be multiplied.

The need that brought the masters of pilpul in previous generations to at times attempt to integrate aggadah and halachah welled forth from this demand for a unification of these forces, which so much act in unison.

We are already called upon to gather together talents and knowledge in order to clarify our learning and all the paths of our lives. In particular, the essence of halachic learning must be broad, composed of the various approaches of the early and later authorities who have grown to be so many over the generations—we very much need that depth and breadth. And we must approach with complete breadth the unity of the contents of halachah and aggadah—which includes the categories of logic and history, ethics and faith, feeling and civility.

And resting upon all of them is a pure phenomenon, one soaked with the dew of the life of the totality of the light of Torah, ready to rest like a beautiful ornament upon all those who learn Torah for its own sake, giving them a special sensitivity and satisfaction of the heart?inspiring joy of Torah.

Orot Hakodesh I, pp. 26?27


+ 135 Torah Scholars Whose Learning Is Their Occupation

Torah scholars whose learning is their occupation must see to it that their path lies correctly before them and that their goal is clear, so that their spirit may be strong and their mind quiet, calm and settled.

How great is the exalted principle, “You are not required to finish, yet neither are you absolved of the work.” Therefore, there is not such a great need to visualize self-encouragement in your Torah-learning service that involves embracing the totality of its knowledge.

This can calm your heart, so that you may learn every topic with a confident and quiet spirit, undisturbed by other things or by worrying in general about attaining total knowledge, which is impossible. Instead, you find your own personal service acceptable.

Nevertheless, you must pave a path for yourself upon which you can still see the complete circumference of the Torah.

In ideology, you must gain clarity about your purpose and the purpose of your desire in your Torah-learning service of God. Also, in practical learning, you must yearn to encompass and incorporate the complete sum of the entire practical teachings that are in the Torah’s practical aspect—as far as you can.

People customarily say that the Torah has no end. In regard to its practical aspect, that is true only within certain parameters—for really, it is possible, when a person goes on a straight path, to attain a total and clear embrace of the entire practical aspect of the Torah.

Those who are great need no explanation for this. But those of middle rank need help, after they arrive at the measure of competent understanding of the depth of halachah, in knowing the form of halachah in a straight and proper way, [which they gain] by serving Torah scholars in correct measure, until they know how to study any Talmudic discussion properly, and how to question and answer in accordance with the path of Torah in the give and take of halachah. Then their main effort must be, first and foremost, to encompass all the halachos of the Rif in their simple meaning, with competent breadth of knowledge. The attainment of this is made much easier by a calm steadfastness.

This service is very sweet in itself, as well as a pleasurable vision that is close to the goal of total encompassing , knowing the complete sum of all the halachos—according to how very close [their study is] to their source in the Talmud in general. Only through the gathering of all the details will the great beauty of the glorious building of the entire practical Torah stand before your eyes.

When you proceed in this fashion every day, continuously, you will add study-times dedicated to an overall mastery of the written Torah, and you will spend set aside times every day for acquiring the wisdom of the aggadah, midrash, ethical works, philosophy and Kabbalah, in proper proportion, and a breadth of time for independent thought, in order to broaden good sensibilities, as well as your set time for learning Talmud quickly every day, and as well as occasional times for clarifying the depth of halachah broadly and engaging in sharp analysis of various topics, in order to broaden your mind and study in-depth, which is crucial for all those who seek the Torah.

When you acquire an encompassing expertise in the halachos of the Rif, there will be born within you the desire to know the halachos clearly. You will learn a great deal of Talmud (Babylonian and Jerusalem), Toseftas and all the words of the Sages, out of an inner recognition of the need for breadth and clarity. The essence of your service must always be in broad learning of the foundations of the halachos and the essentials of the words of Torah, until the perfection of knowledge in all the areas and details will make your awareness whole in all other matters that a person needs. And at that point, people will be inspired by your advice and counsel.

When you proceed in this way, you will also be able to set fixed times for acquiring the wisdom and knowledge that are useful to a person in this world, which broaden the circumference of your knowledge and give you the courage to face the necessities of life. Then you will be pleasing to others and you will find grace in the eyes of God and man.

Orot Hatorah 9:3


+ 115 To Expel Coarseness

It is an established principle that if you see that your success lies in the Torah’s spirituality and mystical teachings, and if you find learning halachah in depth difficult, your inner obligation is to set aside the majority of your time to that study that fits your spirit.

Similarly, if you see that learning the secrets of the Torah is sanctifying you, is raising your spirit and bringing you close to holiness with a feeling in your heart and inner mind, and you do not see this desirable fruit from your exoteric studies—and, more than that, they do not suffice to expel from you the coarseness of your proclivities that you sense in your spirit—this is a definite sign that your rectification lies in learning your portion of the inner light of the Torah’s mysticism.

When you feel within yourself such a clarity and purity that the exoteric learning will also support you in [rising in] holiness, you will be able to expand your boundary until you will fulfill your purpose well and come back to gain more pleasure in the teachings of the supernal secrets “for sustenance, for satiety and for fine garments” (Isaiah 23:18). When everything is for the sake of heaven, with pure intent, “He does not despise the suffering of the impoverished” (Psalms 22:25).

Orot Hatorah 10:3