Daf Yomi Chagigah 10
Imagine you are a computer programmer who is an expert in multiple computer languages for a large multinational corporation. One day, your boss comes and tells you that henceforth you should just use Windows.
‘It’s so simple and easy-to-use,’ he says, ‘you can search for stuff. You can have different wallpapers. You can switch between multiple screens. How cool is that?
You laugh in his face. ‘With all due respect, sir, that’s utterly ridiculous,’ you say, ‘those functions are way too basic for the needs of our company. In order to keep our system up and running, there are detailed codes that happen beyond the sightlines of the average computer user!’
‘Fine,’ he says, continue to do your coding, but I’m concerned about our security. So henceforth, we’ll be completely internally-operating. I’m shutting down the wifi and internet connection.’
‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’ you exclaim, ‘I need access to codes and languages that others are developing. You think that I have all the answers at my fingertips? There are trillions of pieces of information flowing through this room that we could access anytime, but we need the right connection!’
The prophet Zachariah declared, “As for he who departs and comes, there is no peace.”
Rav explains: When one departs from learning Halacha (Jewish law) and heads off to learn Scripture, he finds no peace. Rashi explains: This is due to the fact that you cannot understand how to practice from reading Scripture; you need the Mishnah to fill in the silence of the Torah text.
The Mishnah states: The laws of annulling vows are flying in the air and have no textual basis in Scripture. The laws of Shabbos, festival offerings and de-consecration are like mountains hanging by a thread in that there is little basis in the text but an abundance of laws.
Learning Chumash (Pentateuch) is like using Windows. It’s simple, easy to use and accessible. But once you’ve entered the world of real computer language, Windows just doesn’t cut it. It may be useful to a certain extent, but you’re lacking the richness, complexity, and beauty of Torah!
You can’t see the internet information with your physical eyes, but as soon as you pull out your smartphone, all the knowledge of the world is available to you. Is that new information that appeared? No, it was there all along ‘flying in the air.’ You just needed a transmitter to access it.
How much more is that true of Torah! The entire world is one great flow of Divine energy, we just don’t see it. When you learn Talmud, you begin to comprehend the letters, words, sentences and laws that are flying in the air. To then deprive yourself of that experience by turning back to Scripture alone would be extremely unpleasant and of course nobody would ever do that. The message of the Gemara is that if you think you’re learning Torah by coming to shul on Shabbos and picking up a Chumash, you have no idea what you’re missing out on!
The Chumash is just the beginning. The Torah reading is meant to serve as a tool to inspire us to learn Torah. If you walk away thinking that was the main thing, then you’ve missed the point. And you’ve walked away from the richness, the beauty and the opportunity to wrap yourself in the flow of Divine energy!