Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Novel Torah Thoughts From Wicked People

How can it be that the Torah, with all of its holiness, can cleave to wicked individuals? Indeed, Do’eg the Adomite was a wicked man, but on the other hand he was an unrivaled Torah scholar! How can it be that the completely holy Torah given to us from Heaven by Hashem and is actually Divine knowledge can be learned and toiled in by wicked people, so much so that they can become great scholars and proficient in its wisdom? According to the natural course of events, Do’eg could have died while still possessing all of his knowledge and only because King David prayed that he dies without his wisdom did a miracle occur and he had forgotten all of his Torah, as the Gemara in Sanhedrin tells us. However, practically speaking, it is possible for an extremely wicked person to be extremely knowledgeable in Torah. This indeed requires an explanation, for what is the difference between the Torah of a righteous man versus that of a wicked man?

Hagaon Rabbeinu Avraham Yisrael Ze’evi zt”l provides an answer to this question in his Sefer Ohr Laysharim (which can be found at the end of the Sefer Orim Gedolim) where he writes that when every single Jewish soul stood at Mount Sinai, Hashem apportioned him with a portion of the Torah which only he would be able to reveal. Most of the Torah that we learn is not part of this unique portion which Hashem has allotted us; rather, it belongs to other people who have already brought their own novel ideas into the world and we have the ability to absorb these explanations and novel Torah ideas which have already been explained by others “from the air”. Not every individual merits learning and unearthing his unique portion of the Torah which was given solely to him at Har Sinai.

The same applies to the wicked, that although they possess no fear of G-d, they nevertheless possess the ability to absorb from the air explanations and novel Torah ideas which have already been generated by others. However, they will never be able to reveal the special portion of Torah which was given only to their soul at Har Sinai, even with the vastest wisdom in the world. It is for this reason that the Tanna who authored this Mishnah states specifically that “His wisdom shall not last,” meaning that the unique portion of Torah which was meant to be solely his knowledge shall never be uncovered if he has no fear of Heaven.

Another deep point to ponder on this topic is that if one does not produce novel ideas in the Torah and only learns and repeats what others in previous generations have already explained, he is not actually learning Torah directly from Hashem and is only learning through a middle-man, i.e. the scholars who have already explained what he is currently learning. However, if one learns Torah and merits learning and revealing the portion given only to him at Har Sinai, one indeed merits learning Torah without a middle-man, directly from Hashem. This is what is meant by the verse, “And David was successful in all of his endeavors and Hashem was with him,” that through his fear of G-d, David merited learning Torah directly from Hashem and because of this, the Halacha followed his opinion regarding anything he said. Only one who possesses fear of Heaven merits learning such Torah which is considered “his wisdom” and this will indeed last forever.

Nevertheless, not only great Torah scholars merit revealing novel portions of the Torah; rather, any individual who merits organizing one’s Torah study in a unique way based on one’s own understanding has created a novel approach to understanding the subject matter which has not been revealed before and Maran zt”l has said that this is likewise considered genuinely new Torah thoughts.

[From halacha yomit]