Let My People Know

"When Torah study is just learning it tends eventually to become an elixir of death"


The great Sage the Maharal once asked: Why is the earth getting lost? Because the Torah was abandoned. 

What does it mean to abandon Torah? 

The answer is that the Torah is abandoned if one does not bless it before coming to it.

God seems to overlook many sins and trespasses and even crimes, but He cannot forgive the failure to bless the Torah. 

This blessing takes the Torah out of the category of just learning.

When Torah study is just learning it tends eventually to become an elixir of death. 

Not reciting the prior blessing exposes the Torah to the shell. 

Indeed, all trespass is simply such a disregard of holiness, the disdain that leads to blasphemy.

For example, the sin of "avodah zarah" (idolatry) comes from the error of giving the respect due to God to something or someone else. 

The essence of sin is sacrilege, the mistake of making that which is holy into that which is profane.

Let us say that there are many different worlds and there is a corridor running through them, like a thread, which is never spoiled. 

In all the worlds there are distortions, variations, but the one thing that remains fixed throughout is the Torah. 

This Torah somehow gets to our world, so that we are allowed a passage through to holiness, to the holy of holies of reality. 

When a person offends the Torah, it is a far more fundamental offense than anything else.
If one is struck or injured, the pain is transmitted to the brain just as every sensation gets to the brain and to the heart, but there is a hurt that strikes the nerve directly and this is the most painful of all. 

In this way, to offend the Torah by failing to recite the blessing means to make the Torah a thing, diminishing its holiness. 

And the more one is engaged with Torah in this profane manner, the greater is the injury to holiness, until the Torah is no longer able to serve as a means of nourishment for the world.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From In the Beginning by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz