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Obligation to study torah

Rabbi David SperlingTishrei 26, 5772
What is the biblical source for learning torah? Why does God want me to study laws regarding damages (nezikin) which don’t seem related to spirituality- how does that bring me closer to him? Should I ignore these questions and try to study just because God commanded me to without understanding the reason? If so, is it a problem that when I tried that in the past, I never became attached enough to God or to the learning to continue learning?
Shalom, Torah study is a basic mitzvah, and its source is found in Kiddushin 29b - " ‘To teach him Torah.’ How do we know it? — Because it is written, "And you shall teach them to your sons" (Devarim 11,19). And if his father did not teach him, he must teach himself, for it is written, "and you shall study" (ibid 5,1) ". However, your question indicates a true desire to learn Torah not just to fulfill a commandment, but to truly come closer to Him. And whilst this is true of every mitzvah, you are especially correct in expecting Torah learning to fulfill a true spiritual need to come closer to Hashem and attached to Him. Even though one should not expect every moment of Torah learning to be filled with tangible spirituality, and also not expect the spiritual benefits and pleasure of Torah learning to come without much effort and true struggle - it is absolutely correct to expect your Torah learning to enlarge the heart, uplift the spirit and draw one closer to the Holy One Blessed Be He. Even the parts of Torah that we learn so as to know how to walk in this world - how to pay damages, and what blessing to say on a banana - should also ultimately serve a greater (spiritual) purpose of joining us to the Holy. This effect is also realized in the world to come, but also in this world its effects should make their mark on the Torah student. May I suggest the following from my experience with many and varied students from all types of backgrounds - the major cause of dissatisfaction with Torah study is not based on any misunderstanding by you of what you expect of the Torah. You are surely aware that every great endeavour requires effort, and (it seems from your letter) you are surely willing to make that effort if only the results can be guaranteed. So let me guarantee them, in the name of countless generations of Jews who learnt, and learn, Torah day and night; and in the name of the Blessed One who gave us the Torah on Mount Sinai and commanded us to never let it depart from our lips; and in the name of the Holy Rabbis who wrote in our prayers that "we will rejoice in the words of Thy law and in thy commandments for ever; for they are our life and the length of our days, and we will meditate on them day and night" - let me guarantee you that will find all you desire ultimately in learning Torah. All you need is to find the correct pathway of Torah learning for you. The Gemara states that a person only learns where their heart deisres. You need to find the Torah of your heart. Baruch Hashem, today there are so many options - go to the site and click on "ToraNeto", where you will find listed 299 (!) sites of Torah learning. I have no doubt that your frustrations in the past have much to do with what, where and how you have been taught. If you can only find the Torah of your heart, you will be able to grow in it and become a shining light in Israel. And your personal Torah success will enlighten the entire Jewish people, and fill the whole world with Holy Torah. Am Yisrael awaits your Torah - don't fail us. Blessings, D. Sperling
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