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Why Toil in My Torah Studies?

Why Toil in My Torah Studies?

Photo: Menachem Serraf
Photo: Menachem Serraf


On the verse in Leviticus (26:3), “If you follow My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them,” the commentator Rashi explains that “if you follow My statutes” is referring to “toil in the study of Torah.”1

I find studying Torah to be very inspirational, exciting, and mostly enjoyable. Can you please explain the meaning of “toiling in the study of Torah”?


Yes, the study of Torah, Jewish teachings, can be very uplifting, enjoyable, and intellectually stimulating. But what if it isn’t? What if you hit an area of study that you find boring? Or an area of study that you can’t make sense of, no matter how hard you try?

Or, there may come a time in your life that is so hectic that it is difficult to set aside the time to study. You might be tempted to push it off to the next day, the next week, or to sometime in the future when there aren’t so many demands on your time.

It is at these moments when the concept of “toiling in Torah” kicks in.

When you have no particular pleasure in an area of study, keep at it anyway. When it’s difficult to understand, keep trying to wrap your head around the concepts. When you seem to “get it” easily, work anyway, and dig for deeper insights and greater understanding. And when you have no time, make time.

In Torah study, it’s not only the end result, the knowledge, that’s important. Equally important, or perhaps even more important, is the process by which we acquire the learning. Because it is in the struggle that we subjugate and overcome our negative inclinations and the spiritual lethargy that causes us to be uninterested in learning and doing good deeds. Through authentic Jewish teachings, we become more spiritually refined and more connected to G‑d.

See Torah Study.


Since the verse adds “observe My commandments,” “follow My statutes” cannot be referring to G‑d’s commandments, the mitzvahs; thus, it is referring to the study of Torah. Toil is alluded to in the choice of word in the verse—teileichu—which literally translates as “walking,” a physically demanding act (see Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, Gur Aryeh on Rashi ad loc.).

Chaya Sarah Silberberg serves as the rebbetzin of the Bais Chabad Torah Center in West Bloomfield, Michigan, since 1975. She also counsels, lectures, writes, and responds for’s Ask the Rabbi service.
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ruth housman marshfield hills, ma April 19, 2012

Splendor in the Grass Sign I (Sinai) Since humility is key, as exemplified by Moses, surely he had to know, about small, in this vast firmament of stars, that everyone is a star, all participants in such love. G_d does deeply know the fate of every blade of grass. I once took a walk in the Rockies up a well worn path, and noticed below my feet, small bell-shaped flowers that were unharmed, and I marveled at this, and it was very evident that somehow all these feet, would not trample them, and I knew then, for sure, that G_d is ever and always, in the wings.

To contemplate what is this vast, is to make oneself, feel, very small, very humble, and yet I do perceive, that still, many who profess to teach do it with a kind of arrogance, not becoming with respect to this very notion, of humility in the face of... what is ineffable, a splendor of unimaginable magnitude.

The conundrum: the arrow in arrogance, the agony of being unseen, in wanting to communicate, also brings deep personal rewards and closeness to the Source. Reply

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