“But what’s the point?!” We would grumble these words to our math teacher, wondering why we needed to spend endless hours understanding fractions and computing equations that we would never in our lives have to deal with, at least not without a calculator. So what was the point of straining all those muscles in the brain?
Sometimes, that was the point. Beyond getting educated, doing the math was meant to sharpen our brains and exercise higher-order thinking.
With Torah, it is entirely different. When one learns aWhat was the point of straining all those muscles in the brain?
piece of Torah that seems irrelevant, such as a piece of Talmud discussing how
much Reuven would owe Shimon in a hypothetical situation, it is not merely
gym-for-the-brain. When one learns Torah, the mind is absorbing G‑d’s will and
wisdom, which is one with G‑d. Mastering Torah means the person is not just digesting information, but G‑d Himself, so to speak, who is otherwise not graspable by our very finite selves.
This is the advantage of Torah learning, even over performing mitzvot. We are not only embracing Him, as with all mitzvot, but we are “taking Him in,” allowing Him into our very brains.
Torah is therefore called “food for the soul” for by grasping a concept in Torah, the soul is so to speak digesting G‑d.
Tanya Bit: By learning algebra, one doesn’t unite with a triangle. But by learning Torah, one becomes unified with G‑d.
(Inspired from Chapter 5 of Tanya)