What does it mean to learn Torah lishmah?
To learn Torah lishmah first means, like everybody knows, that you’re motivated because you want to know, “What does Hashem request of me? What does he desire of me?” That’s number one.
But it doesn’t mean that you should merely have a good intention. You have to put in the labor because to understand what Hashem wants of you , you must have a certain achievement of the intellect. It’s never easy to know מה ה’ אלוקיך שואל מעמך. Don’t think it’s easy to know.
That’s why when the ger came to Shamai and said, “Teach me on one foot how to become a Jew,” Shammai said, “Get out of here! On one foot you want to learn the Torah?!”
And even when he came to Hillel and Hillel said, “Come, I’ll tell you,” Hillel didn’t really tell him. He only said, “You have to know that if you’ll study the rule I’m giving you, that’ll be the foundation. I’m giving you a rule: ‘What you don’t want others to do to you, don’t do to others.’ Now, that’s the rule,” Hillel said, “and the rest is an explanation. ואידך פירושא – study the rule because it needs explanation; so go learn.”
So Torah lishmah requires effort. And the more effort you put in, the more it’s lishmah. Don’t make any mistake about it. Lishmah doesn’t mean you learn superficially. It has to be with the motivation to do the will of Hashem, but it must be with yegiah, with effort to learn Torah. And every Jew who puts in effort will succeed in gaining the will of Hashem more. Hashem’s ratzon, His favor, is upon those who seek His will; those who seek to know His will.
TAPE # 900