You’re speaking tonight about the greatness of learning Torah and how important it is for a person’s perfection. But don’t you think that some people are better off making achievements in other areas? Maybe they didn’t have the opportunity when they were younger to learn how to learn and now it’s too late?
You’re living up to your reputation of asking good questions; very good, very good. And the answer is nobody is excluded from learning Torah because there’s no such thing as not having the opportunity. Now it doesn’t mean that if you’ll study Torah, you’re going to become a chaver of Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky. It doesn’t mean you’ll sit next to the Steipler and talk in learning. But you certainly can achieve in learning Torah. If you’re interested, join our telephone Torah program. It’s amazing what you can accomplish. You’ll learn a half possuk of chumash a day on your own with a linear translation. After a while, you’ll be amazed – you’ll know two parshiyos of chumash. There’s no excuse for not doing that. Then you’ll start Pirkei Avos and eventually you’ll know six perakim of Pirkei Avos. Then you’ll learn it without the nekudos. You’ll say six perakim of mishnayos without nekudos. Then we’ll put you on the gemara program, and you’re on the straight way to greatness. Everybody can do it!
Now, this you could say. Suppose somebody is not doing it and won’t do it; are there no other avenues to achievement? Yes, there are also other avenues to achievement. Yes, certainly we do not deny that. There certainly are other opportunities for greatness but the prime achievement is the study of Torah. And if people want to know how to do it, we’re happy to advise them privately and give them a program that’s easy, that’s available, and it’s a program that everybody can succeed in.
There are other things to do too, however, in addition to that. People can grow great in emunah. That’s a big field! People can grow great in tefilah; a very big field. People can grow great in tzedakah; a big field. People can grow great in changing their middos of character. A very big field! There are other fields and branches, subdivisions of these fields. There is a great deal of work to do in this world. Like it says hayom katzar, life is short, vehamelachah merubah, and there’s a great deal of work. And nobody is left out of opportunities.
Only if you go into a store where you have a benevolent merchant – of course every merchant is benevolent to himself but imagine you have a benevolent merchant who really wants to help you – and you come in to shop and you have let’s say a certain amount of money. So he’s going to tell you, “Look, the best merchandise is this right here. It might not be the most appealing to you. It may not interest you most but I’m telling you that it will be the best you can get for your money. However, if you want to turn down this offer, I have something else that’s almost just as good or maybe much less valuable but it’s good too.”
And therefore Hakadosh Baruch Hu says, “Look. You don’t want to learn? Then there are other things to do; there are a lot of good things to do. But My beloved children I am holding out to you an offer. I hope you’ll accept it. Ki lekach tov nasati lachem, I’m giving you the best thing to buy, torasi al ta’azovu, don’t forsake the study of My Torah.
TAPE # 263 (May 1979)