It says that גדולה שימושה יותר מלימודה – serving a talmid chochom is greater than learning Torah from him. But if תלמוד תורה כנגד כולם, if learning Torah is better than any mitzvah, so why is serving your rebbe better than learning?
שימושה של תורה here means to serve talmidei chachamim andto be around them as much as possible in their daily activities. When you serve talmidei chachomim – I’m talking about the old ones who were called talmidei chachomim – so everything they did was Torah. The way they spoke, the way they walked, everything! So you saw Torah in practice. When you see Torah l’maaseh, in practice, so it’s more effective than when you hear Torah with your mind. In your mind, it’s just like a chalom, a dream; too often it’s just far off ideals. It’s imagination, a yediah rechokah. But when you look at a tzaddik gamur, a real talmid chochom, so everything he does is done according to the ideals of the Torah. Whatever he says is Torah. Even the way he looks at things is Torah; his t’nuos, his motions were Torah.
Now, I won’t say that today that we have people who are exactly like that, but even today there are plenty of tzaddikim that by spending time with them, you’re going to learn things l’maaseh, things that you can never learn from seforim. You heard it once maybe, you read it once in a sefer, but it had a very weak effect on you. But שימושה של תורה, when you learn Torah by means of being in contact with people who actually live the Torah, that’s a whole different way of learning how to live a Torah life. It’s so much more effective, and that’s why שימושה, coming in contact with tzadikim and learning Torah by watching them, is גדול מלימודה, it’s greater than learning from seforim.
TAPE # E-18