Monday, March 26, 2007

Introduction to the thought of Rav Mordechai Elon Shli”ta- Part 3

Torat Eretz Israel is Torat Chayim Part 2

Once, Rav Elon was organizing with a few of us in yeshiva a program to train some yeshiva students to become leaders when they go back to chuts laarets.

At one point, I told him... You know, some people will probably not come because they will say its "bitul torah".. they don't want this training instead of learning gemara.
Harav Elon looked at me and told me..."No, maybe they will say its bitul "toyreh" but its not Bitul Torah"

He then explained what he mean: In massechet Chagigua, it says, "There was no greater bitul torah than when Am Israel went to Galut". So Harav Elon asked me: How is that true? When we went to Galut, first the mishna came out, then the gemara, then the gueonim, the rishonim, the zohar, the acharonim... how is that bitul torah? It is davka in galut that all the torah came out! Its the oppositie of bitul torah!

He then made a hilouk: No, it is true that when we went to galut, it was the opposite of bitul "toyreh" but it wasn't the opposite of bitul torah. If bitul "toyreh" is the lack of study of torah, then there was a lot more study of torah in galut, where all jews could do is study because they did not need to bother themselves with issues of how to lead a state. However, that is bitul toyreh, not bitul torah! Bitul Torah is when you have torah, but it becomes mevutelet (cancelled).

How does this happen? If you take the torah, and you study it without connecting it to your daily life, then it is bitul torah. Therefore, the gemara was saying: When we are in erets israel, the torah is torat chayim! Everything in our life is torah - when we go to work, it helps buid erets israel and therefore its torah, our politics are torah since they deal with the destiny of am israel, our army is torah, EVERYTHING is torah, its TORAT CHAYIM. Its bringing torah, and connecting it to every aspect of our life. In Chuts Laarets, we cannot have that. We can't say that by participating in the American elections we are being involved in kiyum torah! We can't say that our job is exactly torah (because, although there is a positive aspect of bringing in parnassa, it isn't good it its essence there, it is just good because it leads to parnassa. In Israel, its good in its essence because in its essence, your job in completing the demographic needs of am israel in erets israel). When you plant a tree and get your hands dirty, in chuts laaretz, the dirt is Tumah! In Eretz Israel, its mamash kedusha.
After Rav Elon explained that, I realised that this explained the kli yakar's explanation on the meragelim. The kli yakar said: The reason the meraglim didn't want to go to erets israel is because in the desert, they could learn torah all day, take care of their individual religious self all day! The mann was their food, everything was taken care of... However, if they go to erets israel, it would create so many problems! They would need to work the land, they would need to defend the country, they would need to administer the country... they thought it was bitul torah to go to erets israel!
Well, they were wrong! It was bitul Toyreh, but not bitul Torah. The real bitul torah was to stay in the desert where all you did was learn torah without connecting it to every single aspect of your life.

May we have the zchut of being in a place where we can practice torah with every fiber of our being and every part of our existence!

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