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Torah and Mitzvot

Rabbi Elchanan LewisNisan 6, 5769
194
Question
I heard that the Chofetz Chaim says that the Mitzvot are like a big chandelier and that Torah is like the sun. When the sun comes out even the biggest chandelier seems like nothing. This comparison seems to me to degrade Mitzvot. I have heard this kind of emphasis on Torah study before and I don’t get it. It seems to contradict the idea that we study in order to learn how to do. If the doing is so immaterial compared to the study how could doing be the purpose of the study. I also wonder why we daven two hours a day if study is so important. The Torah didn’t require that much study. Chazal and the generations kept adding to the siddur. Why would they do that if study is so incomparably important as compared to everything else?
Answer
Torah and Mitzvot are both essential for a full and balanced Jewish life. In some ways Mitzvot are "greater" – we stop Torah study to perform Mitzvot [like Tfilah] on the other hand Torah study is "greater" as it instills Godliness and purifies our soul more than any mitzvah can. Torah study is not only important for knowing what mitzvoth to do and how, the blessing for Torah study is Laasok Bedivrei Torah – to toil in Torah study, not necessarily for the sake of doing, the learning itself, the mental exercise of understanding a Gemarah page for instance is itself the act of bringing down Godliness into our life. Anyone who truly tasted the sweetness of Torah study can't be tricked by nothing less than real thing.
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