The Rav spoke tonight about the importance of learning to love tzadikim. Should a yeshiva man take time away from his learning in order to read biographies of chachomim in order to learn to love them?
The answer is no. No. He should spend his time with the Gemara. He should learn to love the Gemara. The more you learn Gemara, the more you fall in love with it. Over and over again you should chew over the sugya. Chazara is so important. Get the geshmak. “Vi’ha’arev nah Hashem Elokeinu.” Hashem, make sweet the words of the Torah in our mouths. That’s number one. That’s the first step to learning to love tzadikim. And it’s so important to know that the reason we love tzadikim is because Hashem loves tzadikim. We love tzadikim because we love Hashem.
Of course, while you’re eating lunch, there’s no harm if you look into the biography of a tzadik. Sipurei tzadikim are very important. To read about our models so that we can emulate them. But anytime that you’re able to sit in front of the Gemara, you should make sure to learn Gemara. Ki heim chayeinu! You should put all the time you have into learning Gemara. The Shas is our life breath. People don’t realize what a happiness it is to learn. You have to get into the mood, into the habit, of feeling a geshmak, a miseekus, a sweetness. Like Dovid Hamelech said, “Ki masok mi’dvash vi’nofes tzufim” (Tehillim 19-11). Sweeter than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
And therefore, nobody should give up time from the Gemara to do things like reading biographies. If you wish, while you’re on the bus or while you’re eating lunch, you can do that. Otherwise, as much time as possible should be spent in the Gemara. Take a Baba Kama, a Baba Metzia, whatever it is, and learn over and over again. Over and over again. And each time, it becomes more and more delicious. It’s like bread. You know that the more you chew on bread, the sweeter it tastes. There is an enzyme, ptyalin, in your saliva, that has the effect of causing the starch in the bread to turn into sugar. The starch turns into sugar. That’s how it is. The longer you chew bread, the sweeter it becomes. And the longer you chew the Gemara, the sweeter it becomes. Get into the habit. And even if some of you are not lamdanim, try it anyhow. And little by little, you’ll get the miseekus of limud ha’torah. And that’s a tremendous achievement. To love the Torah. To love the Gemara. To love the Ta’na’im. You should love the sound of Abbaye and Rava. Of Rav Papa and Rav Huna brei di’Rav Yehoshua. All of our great men. Love their names. The taste of their names should be on our tongues, sweeter than honey.