Wednesday, 25 January 2012

You Can't Learn Torah with "Dirty Hands"

by Dov (See all authors)

'AryehTahor' asks on the forum:

Since my last fall and my general life situation at the moment, I have decided I would like to start working the steps. Can the steps be effective if you basically print them out and study them a little each day and think about them? Or do you need to be involved with a program, and go to meetings and have a group of people etc.? I ask because I can't practically be involved in an SA program at the moment and am wondering if I will get anything out of what I said above, or if it will be basically a waste of time and I should try to learn Mussar instead?


Dov Replies:

For the record, haven't you been learning mussar already? If not, what pray tell (that's fancy talk for "the hell") have you been doing all these years?

And no, the steps are not said to work unless you "work" them. It requires action, not reading and thinking. Even writing, which is absolutely indispensable for most folks, is not enough. Action is needed.

The concept of "kol ha'omer: 'ein li ella Torah' ("I only want to learn - not keep the mitzvos"), afilu Torah ein lo! (even Torah he doesn't have)" applies to the steps even more so.

Just for fun, here's a little vort:

 

A question:

Why is it that if we smear mud or wipe a shoe on our backs or faces we can still learn Torah, but if we touch a shoe with our hand we cannot? What's with the hands?!

 

An answer:

Hands symbolize action - asiyah - what the malachim are missing. That's why we have the Torah, not them. "Hands being dirty" symbolizes that they are not muchshar for asiyah - i.e. there is an inherent lack in our ability to implement Hashem's Will.

And one who is not in a state to put the Torah into action is pasul for learning because it is as though they are saying "I'll just learn it". And apparently, that's not what Torah was made for. Our hands have to be OK, even though our asiyah will not be perfect. They need to be ready for Hashem to work through them.

Hatzlocha!