As part of the Lakewood Shabbos in the Five Towns/Far Rockaway community, Rav Matisyahu Solomon Shlita, the Mashgiach of the Lakewood Yeshiva addressed a packed crowd at Shalosh Shidus at the Agudah of Long Island after being introduced by Rav Yaakov Reisman Shlita, the Rav of the Shul. Rabbi Reisman pointed out that our generation is very fortunate that we have Gedolim of the stature of the mashgiach who can eloquently present true Torah MiSinai in a manner that can be understood and appreciated.The Mashgiach began with a detailed description of what Matan Torah was like. He cited a Ramban in Parshas Yisro that the descriptions of the events at Matan Torah were not merely parables but they were factual. He explained the Mitzvah of never forgetting the experience of this monumental event in our history.
The mashgiach then went on to explain the Mitzvah and the brachos of Birchas HaTorah as explained in the Tur Shulchan Aruch. He explained the first bracha – that we must immerse ourselves in the study of Torah – pointing out that the word Laasok means that we must not merely study it, but immerse ourselves in it completely – like one would immerse themselves in business. He then pointed out the singularity of the sages having inserted a prayer into the middle of the blessings on the Torah – something that Chazal have never done in any other formulation. He asked why that was. He also questioned that the Tefilah is not to give the knowledge to understand Torah rather its give us the Geshmak in learning, and not only us, but for all Klal Yisroel! The Tefilah of “give us the knowledge to understand” Chazal left for Atta Chonen in Shmoneh Esreh.
The Mashgiach explained that the reason why so many children are off the derech – have the left the path of Torah is because they did not have a Geshmak for learning Torah. If you were to ask any at-risk child why they are where they are they would answer that they did not enjoy learning Torah. Chazal understood how crucial this concept was, so much so that they included it as a prayer in the middle of the brachos that we recite every day in the morning before we learn Torah.
The Masgiach then read the Bach and explained that the second blessing of Birchas haTorah is actually a fulfillment of the Torah Mitzvah of never forgetting the experience of maamad har Sinai. This is aside from the Mitzvah of reciting the bracha on learning Torah – we have here a second Torah Mitzvah.
We must appreciate this deeper understanding of Birchas HaTorah when we recite these brachos every morning.
The Mashgiach explained that he once met the Rosh Yeshiva of Lakewood and he told him that there was only one thing wrong with Lakewood.. That it was not Eretz Yisroel. The Mashgiach continued that by the same token, the Five Towns/Far Rockaway community also has a remarkable appreciation for Torah – the only thing missing is that it is not in Eretz Yisroel.