Vayelech – Comfort Zone

There are 613 mitzvos [commandments] in the Torah. The last of which  is taught in this week’s Torah portion of Vayelech: “And now write for you this Song and teach it to the Children of Israel” (Devarim 31:19). In this verse the Torah is commanding every Jewish man to ‘have’ a Torah. This is source of the mitzvah of writing a Torah scroll. Practically, for those who are not trained scribes, one can fulfill this mitzvah simply by being involved in the writing of a Torah scroll, even just one letter..
The Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 613) discusses the root of this mitzvah: “Since it is known about mankind that the effort they put into doing something is based on the preparation needed for it, therefore Hashem commanded each and every Jew to have a Torah by him so he can constantly be reading it and he will not have to go to his friend’s house to find one. This is in order to learn to fear Hashem and to know and be enlightened in His dear and precious mitzvos which are like a great treasure of gold. It was commanded of every Jew to put in the effort to have one, even if his father bequeathed one to him in order so that there will be many Torah books amongst us and we can lend them out to those who cannot afford to buy their own. Another benefit to having new books is so that each Jew can read from them and not be disgusted [or turned off] from old prints that there father had left them. And you should know my son, that even though the main Torah obligation is only to have a Torah scroll, there is no doubt that other Torah books which were published as commentary on the Torah, one should acquire them if it is within his means for the reason we said above even if his father left him a collection. This is the way of any formidable person who is also G-D fearing who is able to establish a beis medrish in their house for authors to write many Torah books according to the blessing Hashem has given them.” (Click here for Hebrew text)
We learn from this Sefer HaChinuch that the final mitzvah of the Torah is not just to write a Torah scroll, but rather to have a large collection of sefarim, for example a Chumash and a Tanach, as well as the Talmud, other explanations on the Torah, and commentaries on the commentaries. Basically, whatever is needed to teach a fear of Hashem, and to appreciate fulfilling His Torah and mitzvos.

What is interesting to note is that even if one inherits a vast collection of sefarim, he still has a mitzvah to grow his own collection. One of the reasons for this is that in the event that the print is old or crumbly, the worn out conditions of the old sefarim might be displeasing for his heart’s content. Why should this be of a concern?

There is a gemara in Brachos 63b which states in the name of Reish Lakish: “How do we know that Torah can only survive within someone who kills himself over it? The Torah states: ‘This is the Torah, a person who dies in a tent’” (Bamidbar 19:14). The Torah Temimah (note 63) explains that this gemara is referring to a person who toils very hard to acquire Torah knowledge. What it means to kill oneself over Torah is to weaken oneself through his learning. (Click here for Hebrew text)

True Torah learning and delving into the profundities of the Torah can only be done through such grueling study that it could break a person and physically weaken his body through such diligent learning. One would think that if it takes such self-sacrifice to pummel the depths of Torah it should not make a difference what kind of book he is learning out of. Nothing should faze him or get in the way of attaining the truth of Torah; however we learn from this Sefer HaChinuch that in order to be successful in one’s learning a person should be attuned to his  comfort zone, and he must effectively sink into the depths of the Torah and submerge himself in its back breaking toil.

We even find in Pirkei Avos (6:4) that when it says “This is the way of Torah: bread with salt you shall eat, and water in measure to drink, and on the ground you shall sleep, and a life of suffering you shall live, and in Torah you shall toil. And if you do this happy you will be and good for you,” Rashi says on this Mishna that it is not referring to the rich. They do not need to suffer in order to learn Torah; rather, what it means is that even if a person only has bread and salt etc. and no mattress or pillow to sleep on, he still should not stop his involvement in Torah study, for in the end he will learn Torah in wealth. (Click here for Hebrew text)

We see from here that there is no concept of torturing oneself to learn Torah. A person must be in his comfort zone, and that will help him learn diligently. He has to be willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of learning, but he still has to find his comfort zone to be successful. The litmus test is his diligence; the drive to keep on learning and getting clarity in Torah and mitzvos. Once one gets into the groove of learning then he will get so involved it could take a toll on him, but the feeling of elation and success will be overwhelming inside him and he will thirst for more.

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