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|T'shuva And Torah|
|Written by Michael|
|Thursday, 30 August 2007|
In understanding the necessity of Torah learning to the t'shuva process, we must recognize that Torah is not an external, factual knowledge like the knowledge of science, mathematics, or linguistics. Torah is an inwardly-directed knowledge which has the power to influence and change a person, to refine a person's character traits and to connect him to the holy, spiritual foundations of life. The study of Torah is not a quantitative amassing of information and theories like other fields. It is a qualitative experience demanding both moral and intellectual involvement, and the desire to make Torah ideals an essential part of one's character. When a person learns Torah and discovers the exalted harmony and goodness of Creation, his will is affected, stimulating yearnings for G-d. Because his will for goodness is enhanced, his desire for t'shuva is strengthened as well (See Rav Kook's book, "Orot HaTorah," 6:1).
You Can't Have One Without The Other
The Talmud teaches that G-d created the evil inclination and the Torah as its cure (Kiddusin 30B). Rabbi Kook explains this as meaning that the will cannot be perfected except through the purifying influence of the Torah (See Rav Kook's book, "Musar Avika," Midat Ratzon). The Torah strengthens the will and directs it towards holiness.
The more an individual learns Torah, especially the secret wisdom of Torah, the more knowledgeable he becomes about his true spiritual nature and about the nature of his will. He comes to recognize that the entire world is Divinely inspired to attain a purer connection to G-d. This higher contemplation brings him to a higher level of t'shuva.
T'shuva and Torah go hand-in-hand. Like bees and honey, you can't have one without the other. The more a person studies Torah, the more inspired he is to do t'shuva. (Orot HaTorah, 6:13). Similarly, to the extent that a person purifies himself through t'shuva, his study of Torah is blessed and made more lucid (Ibid, 6:5).
Secrets Of Torah
A person who is satisfied with a routine performance of the Torah's commandments can get by with a minimum of t'shuva, but to enter into the deep, secret wellsprings of Torah, a person must be pure of all unholy influences. To reach this state of cleanliness, a great deal of t'shuva is required. The depth of a person's t'shuva enables him to understand greater degrees of Torah, for the ability to understand Torah does not solely depend on one's intellectual skills in clinically analyzing a passage of Talmud - the essence of Torah is when the person has internalized its profound moral concepts into his being, so much so that he yearns for them with all of his might. Only when a person has reached this level, when his will is so refined that it longs only for goodness, can he properly understand the deep secrets of Torah. For this reason, people who profess to learn Kaballah without doing t'shuva are not really learning at all. They study the formulas of mysticism, but the import of the teachings does not enter their hearts, for G-d only unravels the secrets of Torah to one who has purified his soul to receive them.
Simply put, if you want to understand the inner workings of existence, you have to clean up your act. Just like you cannot purify yourself in a ritual bath while holding on to a dead mouse (Taanit 16A) you cannot learn the secrets of Torah while you are enshrouded in sin.
Recently, the media has reported a boom in the learning of Kaballah. Movie stars in Hollywood, stockbrokers on Wall Street, and students in college are flocking to Kaballah clubs. While the efficacy of this learning is questionable so long as the would-be mystics remain ensconced in their usual lifestyles, the reason behind their spiritual searching is important to note: Rabbi Kook explains:
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