V’zos HAbrach/Simchas Torah – Feeling Success Not Just Having It

As Simchas Torah is the conclusion of reading the Torah, the Haftorah picks up from where we leave off, with the first perek of Yehoshua in the Navi. There is a very famous, oft quoted, pasuk which is one of the sources of the requirement to delve into learning Torah. The Navi writes: “This book of the Torah shall not leave your mouth; you shall contemplate it day and night, in order that you observe to do all that is written in it, for then will you succeed in all your ways and then will you prosper” (Yehoshua 1:8). (Click here for Hebrew text.)

The Radak introduces to us an argument that took place amongst our Sages as to whether this pasuk is referring to a mitzvah to learn Torah for all people, even those that know the whole Torah in its entirety, or if it is a blessing.  The Radak also has two explanations of what “you shall contemplate it day and night” refers to. The first is that the Navi is reemphasizing the point after he said “This book of the Torah shall not leave your mouth” that “you shall contemplate it day and night,” which would mean that one should constantly be learning day and night at any time that he finds free from his matters of livelihood. The second is that ‘contemplation’ is referring to matters of the heart, as the pasuk in Tehillim says “And the thoughts of my heart” (Tehillim 19:15). (Click here for Hebrew text.)

“Contemplation of the heart” is referred to by Rashi as התבוננות, meaning focus or meditation. According to this interpretation it would seem that day and night refer to a 24/7 (as long as one is not in unclean areas) type of learning which does not necessarily need a sefer open to learn from, but rather wherever one goes they are contemplating and focusing on a case from or a line of the Torah. Anything, something, according to everyone’s own level, that he or she can take with them wherever they go. It is with them in their head to dissect, review, clarify, and make crystal clear; a matter of Hashem’s Torah, The Blueprints of Creations, and our Guidebook for Life.

The pasuk goes on to say that if one does focus and spend a lot of time on Torah learning, learning how to properly live one’s life through Divine guidance, then he or she will “observe to do all that is written in it, for then will you succeed in all your ways and then will you prosper.” The Radak observes that the words the pasuk uses for success areתצליח  and תשכיל which sound like success is in your hand; “You will be successful.” In truth, the Radak says that even though success is not dependent on man, rather by observing Hashem’s Mitzvos they will be rewarded with success coming to them, however it is as if he paved the way for his own success.

It would seem from this Radak that the reward of success is only truly valued if one feels like he is producing it, not just that success is simply coming to him; he must know he is successful. What also follows is that an honest, successful person must live with a paradox. On the one hand, since he or she has learned so much and have dedicated their entire essence to following and trusting in Hashem’s word, living and breathing it, understanding it and practicing it, than they know full well that success in one’s life, the feeling of peace and tranquility, wealth, happiness and health, all of it comes from Hashem, as a reward for observing His mitzvos. Yet, on the other hand, how can one feel the pinnacle of success, if that means feeling that he or she created it themselves?

In reality, what this means is that one must for sure intellectually know that everything comes from Hashem, and all the effort one puts in to everything in life is answered with results from Hashem. However, Hashem gives us the ability to emotionally feel that we accomplished and are successful, and that is the ultimate reward in this world! Hashem gave us the ability to make that proper balance of knowing and being confident that success ultimately comes from Him but we still feel that sense of accomplishment with our hearts and that balance is one of the tests Hashem expects us to succeed in!

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