Praying to learn and learning to pray

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Do you ever feel like you’re just learning and learning without it affecting you? I find it frustrating when I spend time studying Torah and come away feeling tired and relieved to close the book.

I was once at a Purim seudah where someone was examining proofs about whether there is prophecy outside the land of Israel or not. I wanted to say to him, “Brother, who the hell cares? Find your personal Amalek and kill it!”

I heard Rabbi Yehoshua Gerzi coin this problem as mistakenly “seeing the Torah as information, when it should be seen as a Torah of transformation”.

Look how Rebbe Nachman addresses the solution:

“It’s good to turn your learning into prayers. If you learn or hear something from a great tzaddik, then make it into a prayer. Ask Hashem, in supplication, about every detail of the teaching. ‘[Hashem], when will I merit to reach this level? I feel so far from this teaching. Please help me practice the ideas that I learned about.’ (Tinyana 25)

As Reb Nosson expounds upon (Rosh Chodesh 5) kabbalistically and practically, this type of prayer is ‘the essential upholding of the Torah’. It’s the perfection of the Torah.

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Without much coercion, everyone is enamored with the intellectual stimulation of the Torah. Thank God, there are also many who are steadfast in their observance of the Torah’s laws. But sadly, not enough of us open our hearts in prayer and beg the Master of the World to help us preserve the Torah’s teachings.

The Rebbe said that the only way that any of the tzaddikim ever reached their high spiritual levels was with this type of prayer (Tinyana 100). It’s nothing less than essential.

“Hashem, please help me process my learning, so that when I leave the study hall I’m still thinking about Your teachings. Open my eyes so when I interact with the world I’m cognizant of Your teachings and act on them. Help me clarify more and more what lessons I should be gleaning from Your holy words. But most importantly, help me never ever stop praying to achieve the highest levels of Your teachings. Help me pray endlessly, time and again, in my own words, so that Your magnificent Torah is embodied in me. I want it badly! Don’t pay attention to my wasted opportunities. In my deepest, truest place, I want nothing but You! I don’t want to study Torah to have more information. I want to study it to become the best me. Assist me in overcoming my laziness. Encourage me to set aside time to talk to You about it. Guide me to practice it and aid me to uphold it. Amen!”

malchut