It’s hard to have to interrupt yourself.

Imagine you are deeply concentrating on a Torah thought, learning and focusing on the subject at hand, and your mother phones to ask you for a favor. Should you stop? You’re finally in the thick of a good explanation on a deep aspect of Torah . . .

If no one else can fulfill the mitzvah, the sages teach that it is up to you to do so. Because “the most important thing is not study, but practical observance.”

That being said, what if your mother doesn’t need you, and your sister happily offers to do the favor instead? If the action is taken care of by someone else, is there any advantage to continue learning Torah?

Of course, there is! In the remainder of Chapter 37, the Alter Rebbe balances out his emphasis on physical mitzvahs by underscoring that Torah learning is important as well, and in certain aspects, even greater than fulfilling an actual mitzvah.

What aspects?

In terms of changing the world, doing a mitzvah is more effective. But in terms of changing your inner world, your thoughts and your speech—and the entire intellectual capacity of your soul—Torah is more effective. While mitzvahs are compared to G‑d’s limbs, Torah is G‑d’s wisdom, and permeating your intellect with G‑d’s is transformative.

There’s also something irresistible to G‑d about Torah learning. Just like when young children endearingly call out to their Moms and Dads, parents can’t help but melt and respond. Learning Torah is like calling G‑d over; He can’t help but respond.

So while mitzvahs are needed to fulfill the purpose of creation, learning Torah is crucial to our personal growth and relationship with G‑d.

Tanya Bit: Learning Torah is inviting G‑d into our lives, and “G‑d is close to those who call to Him.”

(Inspired from Chapter 37 of Tanya)