by Avraham Tzvi Schwartz
THE BEST OF EVERYTHING
How great the holy Torah is, how magnificent! It has such an
importance that Hashem Himself declares, “The Torah I give you, is a good
acquisition; don’t abandon it.”The question here is, what is this
Chazal teach, that some people acquire items made of
gold, but with no silver; others possess items containing silver, but with no
gold – but the acquisition Hashem gives us includes both gold and silver. There
are people who acquire fields, but no vineyards, others who acquire vineyards,
but no fields; however the acquisition Hashem gives us includes both fields and
“For the acquisition I give you,” says Hashem, “is My Holy
Torah – and he who acquires this, acquires everything, all wealth and finery,
honor and distinction, all pleasure, happiness and types of satisfaction.”
Accordingly Chazal teach, “He who has this,
has all, while he who doesn’t have this, has nothing. He who acquires this,
what does he lack? But he who lacks this, what then does he own?!”
An item that is important and valuable to a poor man, is
quite small in the eyes of one not so poor. In the same way, an item that is
good and dear to such a person, is of little worth to a wealthy man. And
similarly, something that a wealthy man cherishes, is quite insignificant to a
king. For a king’s interests lie in wider fields, matters such as conquering
Now, going a step higher, for an angel, even winning wars
and conquering kingdoms is of petty value – for, as Chazal teach, there
are angels whose size and scope cover many thousands of miles.
If this then is true of an angel, what may we say of Hashem?
Certainly all that man treasures is like nothing to Hashem; next to Hashem the
entire creation, this material universe, as well as all spiritual worlds,
possess trivial, temporary worth.
There is however one thing that man possesses that Hashem
desires. There is one precious treasure in man’s hands that Hashem values
highly. This is the Torah. It is the Torah that Hashem prizes, that He endears.
It is the Torah that He calls good. And it is this selfsame Torah that is His
constant companion, His true source of delight.
OUT OF THIS WORLD
The reward for a single mitzva, any mitzva at
all, even giving a penny to a pauper, is completely beyond the world and its
It is larger and more precious than the sum-total of all wealth and pleasure
throughout Creation – through its length and its breadth, from the first of
days to the very last moment.
Consider for a moment: The reward of a single mitzva
is of a quantity and quality so superb, that it cannot possibly fit into the
realm of known existence. The only place that may hold it, is the
world-to-come; the only dimension that may receive it, is a purely spiritual
This is the idea behind the teaching that even if all the
world’s pleasures were concentrated – were gathered and squeezed into one
single moment – still they would not equal the least element of the
world-to-come; they could not compete with the smallest particle in the life
BEYOND THE BEYOND
Yet, despite the greatness of a mitzva, the worth of
one lone word of Torah is greater than all the mitzvos put together.
The 613 mitzvos, when enacted completely and
perfectly, with all of their details, fine points and desired intentions, when
performed with purity and holiness, bring the entire person to a very lofty
level. They elevate his spiritual organs and limbs to a lofty sphere. They
vitalize his abilities, energize his energies, and make him a chariot for the
uppermost sanctity of the mitzvos – a greatness beyond description.
Still, the illumination, the holiness of all 613 mitzvos,
is quite faint next to the Torah’s immense height and thrust. The Torah’s
brightness lights up its student and lifts him above the mitzvos. It
rockets him worlds beyond all the brilliance and splendor, all the glory and holiness,
that exist in the sum-total of all 613 mitzvos.
Is there then an occupation so worthy of our thoughts and
energies? Is there a richer prize to strive after?
1. Mishle 4.2
2. Shemos Raba 33.1. (Ayeles Ahavim p.169.)
3. Nedarim 41a
4. Chulin 91b
5. See Shemiras HaLoshon,
Shaar HaTorah ch.1
6. Chulin 142a
7. See Michtav M’Eliyahu vol.1. p.4
8. Yerushalmi, Peah ch.1
9. Nefesh HaChayim
gt.4.ch.30. (Binyan Olam p.7.)