Why is learning Torah so important that we say תלמוד תורה כנגד כולם, that it’s equal to all other mitzvos?
Torah is considered one of the most important of mitzvos because it makes you. It changes you.
Now, a mitzvah also makes you. למען תזכרו ועשיתם את כל מצוותי והייתם קדושים – You do mitzvos and you become holy. Every mitzvah makes you kodosh. But the mitzvah of talmud Torah changes your mind. And when your mind is changed, that’s the greatest kedusha of all. And therefore, תלמוד תורה כנגד כולם.
When you think like Hakodosh Boruch Hu thinks, that’s the greatest perfection of a person; it’s the most tremendous change you can make in yourself. And when you’re learning Torah, you’re learning the thoughts of Hashem. That’s how Hashem thinks and He wants you to think that way.
And therefore, learning Torah means you put into your mind the machshavos of the Borei Olam and that’s the greatest of all achievements. Even when you’re learning Bava Kamma, arba avos nezikin, Hakodosh Boruch Hu is thinking how important it is that every Jew should avoid damaging somebody else’s property and you’re thinking in those details of Hashem’s thoughts.
You’re thinking about how you have to be careful when you go into a synagogue; you want to open the window? Don’t push against the windowpane. You might push it out and break the pane. You’re a mazik. You have to pay for it. Hakodosh Boruch Hu doesn’t want you to be a mazik. And you learn that idea not to be a mazik to your fellowman’s property! How big an ideal that is! You’re thinking like Hakodosh Boruch Hu thinks. And that’s why תלמוד תורה כנגד כולם; because you’re changing your mind into a mind that thinks like Hakodosh Boruch Hu.
TAPE # E-1 (February 1995)