The first part began by saying that one's deeds must
correspond to his wisdom, each one according to his wisdom.
If one's wisdom is greater, so must his deeds be, or else he
will not succeed in Torah. By "deeds" Chazal include
everything that a person does or does not do. Only if
everything he does is up to the level of his wisdom will his
Torah be an antidote to the yetzer hora.
Among the things that are included under "deeds" is
bitul Torah. If one does not learn as much as he
should, it will impact the learning that he does do. It also,
very prominently, includes the class of deeds known as the
duties of the heart: "anyone failing to observe them
infringes the halochoh." The first part also discussed
good character traits and studying mussar.
Another extremely important matter that must be addressed is
the issue of derech halimud. Everybody wants to become
a godol, to learn and be connected and devoted to
Torah. The derech halimud is as it is written: "You
shall eat bread with salt". This means that "even" in a
situation of bread with salt and all the things listed in the
Mishnah, nevertheless, if you toil in Torah you will
be happy in this world, despite your material discomfort.
This is a very novel idea, and although it seems difficult to
understand, the explanation is simple: If you eat bread with
salt and this does not disturb your toiling in Torah then you
will be happy in Olom Hazeh because the Torah makes
the heart rejoice, restoring the soul, and is sweeter than
honey, making us forget all our difficulties. This is what
the Mishna means: It is genuine, unmistakable honey,
and anyone who has reached this level feels it.
But the Mishna contains another message: if a person
toils in Torah — and today there is a lot of siyata
deShmaya with Torah and the possibilities of learning
Torah — but does not feel the "happy is your lot in
this world" and he is not in a positive state of mind, that
is a sign that he is not following the derech of Torah
because in the Torah derech anyone toiling in Torah
must be happy. If someone is not happy there are many reasons
for it, and one must examine the reasons why he is not going
in the derech of the Torah . . .
Obviously if a person has aspirations for Olom Hazeh
that itself is a cause of not feeling the "happy is your lot
in this world." Even if such a person truly toils in Torah,
if there are other times when he feels drawn in his heart
towards this world then he is lacking the feeling of
ashrecho be'Olom Hazeh and he is not going fully in
the derech haTorah.
This is a principle of Torah: someone who attaches importance
to Olom Hazeh and has desires in that direction is not
going in the derech haTorah and will not be
I heard the following about the Alter of Slobodka
ztvk"l: It is well known that he looked for and would
be mekarev talented youths in order to guide them and
train them to become gedolim. There was one big
baal kishron who wanted to form a relationship with
the Alter and he spent a lot of time with him, but the Alter
afterwards said about him: "Nothing will come out from him.
He has no hope, even though he's a baal kishron who
The facts afterwards bore out the Alter, and he was asked how
he could tell. He replied that he had noticed how this person
had behaved when he was served a cup of tea with sugar . . .
from his behavior while eating you could tell that he had a
connection to Olom Hazeh and aspirations towards it.
Therefore he eventually left the straight path altogether.
On the other hand, there was an incident where a non-
observant Jew noticed how a yeshiva bochur drank a
glass of soda water and became a baal teshuvoh as a
result of that experience, because a person's inner state of
being, his aspirations and materiality, determine the future
of every person.
Another point in the derech halimud is the tzuras
halimud, which has changed a lot recently, with people
learning in an imitative manner instead of keeping in line
with their individual temperaments. Someone who learns in a
way that goes contrary to his own nature will not be able to
succeed. Nowadays everybody aspires to become a baal
havonoh (master of abstract theories), and certainly the
main aim is to become a baal havonoh because the more
a person understands, the greater he is in Torah.
There is a method of acquiring havonoh, as the
gemora says, ligmor vehodor lisbor (loosely:
let a person first acquire knowledge and then analyze it),
and no other method exists. Unfortunately, nowadays the
svoro comes before the girso, and this goes
against nature, because not everybody enjoys this. [On the
other hand,] a lot of people enjoy learning girso and
in quantity. It is an especially pleasurable way of learning,
as anyone who is accustomed to girso and does
chazoroh all the time can attest. It is literally
sweeter than honey and restores the soul, to sit and learn
and review all the time gemora with Rashi even without
Tosafos. If a person learns and does chazoroh
with total concentration, it fascinates him, and this is the
greatest omol haTorah. The greatest omol
haTorah is when someone is focused on Torah according to
his derech halimud without any external thoughts.
Someone with a such a character — and most people
naturally enjoy girso (except the minority whose
temperament is drawn towards havonoh) —
afterwards learns with havonoh and only then does he
enjoy it. One has to do chazoroh after
chazoroh. The gemora says that learning four
times is not part of the chazoroh process, but is
required just in order to acquire a basic understanding.
I know bochurim and avreichim who started off
learning by imitating others, like everyone else, with
havonoh. They exerted themselves very much, which
caused them difficulties and made them tense. Then they
started learning simply with absolute concentration, and
subsequently they acquired havonoh and are happy with
it, because only then did the ashrecho take effect.
Even though before they were toiling in Torah without any
bitul Torah, since their method went against their
nature the ashrecho be'Olom Hazeh was missing, and
they only attained it when they reverted to a way of learning
that matched their natures. And then they also attained
Another important issue, which also goes somewhat against
nature — is the topic of shimush chachomim.
There is a sequence that has to be followed: from my
rabbonim, from my friends, and from my students. Some people
start immediately with "from my students," but we have to
keep to the order and start with meirabbosai. This
applies not only to Torah but also to all our conduct: how to
conduct ourselves according to the derech haTorah and
This we can only achieve through shimush chachomim.
The greater a person's connection with an odom godol
and the more shimush he has with him, the greater is
the influence [of that odom godol on him] both in
Torah and in all matters. Someone told me that he remembers
HaRav Shach ztvk"l from his period in Slutsk where he
learned with Rav Isser Zalman ztvk"l. He said that in
one aspect he was different form all the others — and
no one attached any importance to this. He was constantly
together with Rav Isser Zalman, not leaving him for a minute,
and that was the secret of his greatness: shimush
One avreich told me that he had started a permanent
connection with an odom godol and that other people
told him that you could see that he had become a different
person, because shimush chachomim changes a person
completely and brings him to shleimus.
This is not widespread nowadays. Everybody thinks they
understand on their own and know what to do. They have a
method and insight for every question that comes up and do
not consult with anybody.
This is a kochi veotzem yodi of ruchniyus. We
must know that we should not try to solve on our own every
difficulty and problem both in ruchniyus and in
gashmiyus, but we must consult with an odom godol
and man of authority in the field and "whoever takes advice
from the zekeinim will not stumble."
Another point, which is a principle [to be remembered]: To
stick to the seder hayom. Bochurim have
sedorim in yeshiva and this is a very powerful system,
and a means of attaining shleimus. Even if a person
thinks that he will learn more by not sticking to the
sedorim of the yeshiva, in reality he will lose more
than he gains. We need not elaborate on this point. If the
sedorim in the Yeshivas and also the kollelim
are meticulously adhered to, this contributes greatly towards
success and the feeling of ashrecho be'Olom Hazeh. I
am told by bochurim who were not organized time-wise
and changed by sticking to the sedorim of the yeshiva
that they now feel totally different.
We are in a period when we need a lot of rachamei
Shomayim and we cannot see a way out of our troubles by
natural means. Some people make calculations of kochi
veotzem yodi, but that is not our way, because anyone
with eyes in their head realizes that we are in need of great
rachamei Shomayim, and so the main thing is to add
zchuyos [and may we merit the full Redemption].