Behold, the unfamiliar atmosphere [mentioned in ch. 23] “has conceived and has given birth to darkness,” 1 allowing an approach to study that is totally undesirable to creep into the house of study. The greater sages of the earlier (rishonim) and later (acharonim) generations abhorred this approach to study and set themselves apart from it with the ultimate of disdain and distance. All of those who study the Torah as they should are extremely careful not to stumble [onto this undesirable path].

The desirable approach to study should have as its objective to know the subject which one is studying with thorough and developed knowledge, without trying to develop chiddushim (innovative explanations) or to build intricate [conceptual] structures. Instead, [the intent] is to know the subject being studied.

(When one of the students whose approach is undesirable will honestly take stock of his spiritual state, he will find that his ultimate desire is to develop chiddushim and to become a contributory influence with regard to the subject being studied. {In doing so, he makes the halachah a recipient of the influence of his folly. Woe is he; may G‑d protect us.}

[These students] have a desire - indeed, a powerful desire - for study, but their desire is only that they develop chiddushim. This is the desire which they take to their study.

And if they cannot develop a chiddush, their desire for study will abate. One of two results will ensue. Either they will focus on another subject, hoping to develop a chiddush in that area, or their [egocentric and] impure desire will emerge and motivate them to speak and think of chiddushim that are utter foolishness that no ear will hear.)

[Instead, a student] should be a recipient from the halachah which he studies, and should not try to convey influence to it. (And ultimately, he will receive honor from his studies, when he develops true chiddushim. This, however, is possible only when one develops a genuine knowledge of the halachah.)

Synopsis: [This chapter] emphasizes that the ultimate purpose of knowledge is to know the concepts [as they truly are], and not to try to develop chiddushim, innovative explanations.