Daf Yomi Moed Katan 22
As a teenager, my friend Alex’s relationship with his Judaism was a little rocky. The theories about the Torah he would espouse were quite fanciful and heretical. His poor parents – despite his very religious upbringing, he claimed he did not even believe in G-d.
Deeply concerned for his spirituality, they went to the great expense of sending him from Australia to the US to learn in yeshiva one summer. Incredibly, Alex came back a changed boy, devoted to regular Torah learning.
I asked him, “What happened? How did they convince you to believe in G-d and Torah?”
“Well nobody really convinced me of anything,” he replied, “but the rosh yeshiva told me it doesn’t matter what I believe. I should just apply myself to learning and the Torah will do the rest.”
Baruch Hashem, today Alex is not only a talmid chacham (Torah scholar) but a well-respected communal rabbi.
When one loses one of the seven close relatives (father, mother, spouse, sister, brother, son or daughter), one must rend one’s garments.
The Beraisa teaches: For all other relatives, even if one is wearing ten cloaks, one tears only the outermost garment. When one is in mourning for one’s father or mother, however, one tears every garment. The only garment that does not impede is the ‘apikorsus’ (headscarf).
Rashi explains: The apikorsus upon one’s head ‘does not impede’ means that he need not tear it.
“Apikorsus” means headscarf, but it also translates as ‘heresy.’
Sometimes we get stuck on our heretical ideas. You think to yourself, ‘Why should I bother with my Judaism? I’m not sure I really believe in it anyway!’ Says the Beraisa, apikorsus – heresy – is not an impediment. And as Rashi explains, you don’t need to tear it up in order to progress in your Judaism.
How do you move forward without getting bogged down by the heresy? Learn Torah! Torah has the amazing ability to overcome notions of heresy and instill emunah – belief. Don’t wait to learn Torah until the belief is there; let Torah do the clean-up work for you! The more Torah you learn, the more your belief in the Almighty will grow.