Shavuot: Learning Torah is what makes a person into a human being
More secrets of the Torah from Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita.
The whole point is to study the aseret hadibrot (Ten Commandments), and to know what the Ten Commandments really is, because everyone knows that it’s forbidden to murder. Everyone knows that it’s forbidden to steal, and everyone knows that it’s forbidden to covet. Everyone knows that “I am Hashem your God”.
When Hashem said: “Don’t murder”, the sons of Esav didn’t understand. They said: “What? In America it’s permitted to kill? In Russia, it’s permitted to murder? After all, the people who murder are given a life sentence, they are given the death penalty!”
When the Arabs heard: “Don’t steal” – they said, “Look, in Saudi Arabia even today when someone steals, they chop his hands off.” If this is so, then what’s the true meaning of “Don’t murder” and “Don’t steal”. Because it’s very clear that these things are forbidden!
Even just thinking about stealing and murdering is bad
Except, “Don’t murder” also comes to tell us that it’s forbidden to even think about doing these things, and this is what the goyim (nations of the world) didn’t want to accept. When a person even just has an evil thought about another person, this by itself is already harmful! This is called “Don’t murder”, because even just having an evil thought about someone else is already killing him.
If a person doesn’t love his friend, then he’s already killing him.
There is nothing in between! Either a person loves his friend with a heartfelt love, and sees his virtues, and judges him favorably – or the opposite. He hates his friend, and doesn’t judge him favorably, and this is how he transgresses “Don’t murder”. If person isn’t careful with his thoughts, he’ll come to do the action, God forbid.
The Ten Commandments can only really be grasped if we’re working on our bad middot
If a person doesn’t grasp the principle of overcoming his bad middot (character traits), and escaping from his bad thoughts, then along comes Matan Torah – and the Ten Commandments, with their “Don’t murder” and “Don’t steal” and “Don’t covet”, aren’t relevant to him at all. Because he covets and covets, and he hates people, and he doesn’t feel as though the Ten Commandments are really speaking to him at all.
“You are called a human being.”
The difference between Arabs and Jews
What is the difference between a Jew and an Arab? An Arab also prays, an Arab also stands there and screams about Jerusalem, and goes around the city shouting about it, so what is the difference between us, and an Arab? Except for this: “As it’s written, you are human, you are called a human being, and those who worship idols are not called human beings.”
If you don’t learn Torah, you’ll never be a Breslover
When does he begin to be a human being? Only when he enters into the Arich Anpin Naharin of the holy Torah! Only when he pays attention in the shiurim (Torah classes)! And goes over the shiurim, and he actually understands the chiddushim that are being revealed to him. And he doesn’t say: “I don’t have the energy to learn, it’s hard for me to learn, I’m going to leave half-way through.” He comes last and he leaves first, and in between he goes outside 10 times.
If he doesn’t put his head into his studies, and all his 258 limbs and 365 sinews into the holy Torah, then he’ll never really be a Breslover! He’ll never ever succeed!
Learn Torah, and feel great
Why does a person feel bad, and here it hurts him and he can’t study, and he can’t focus. Why? Because it hurts him here, and it hurts him there, why? Because you’re not learning [Torah]! Why are you so tired? Because you’re not learning! If you start learning [Torah], you won’t be tired, and nothing will hurt you. Start learning, and you’ll be healthy, start learning and you’ll also be able to focus.
So, the Rebbe [Rebbe Nachman] says that everything this is blemished within a person – he feels weak, he has aches and pains – this all happens because he doesn’t learn. When a person learns Gemara, this is what makes him a true human being, this is what gives him a neshama, and gives him a nefesh, and gives him a ruach.
His studies make him into a human being
His studies give him a heart, and he gets some intelligence – and now we’re talking about a human being. “You are called a human being.” This is the Gemara, this is in-depth learning. A person needs to eat in order to survive, a person needs to eat bread – and he needs to eat more than bread, in order to feel strong. The holy Gemara is the real bread of a person, because man doesn’t live on bread alone – this is the real bread!
A person needs to immerse of all his senses, all his vision, all his intelligence, into in-depth Torah learning. This is what makes a man, by doing this he will be a human being. If you don’t eat, the body disintegrates, the flesh will come away from the bone. And it’s the same thing if a person doesn’t learn Gemara! The body disintegrates, the mind disintegrates, the eyes disintegrate, the mouth disintegrates, the ears disintegrate.
From the moment he hears stupid words, everything starts to disintegrate and there’s no person left. So, the Rebbe says that a human being is made only from the Torah, and only from the fact that he learns Torah in-depth. His mind is created from this, his eyes, and everything else are created from this.
Translated and abridged from the Tzama Nafshi Newsletter.