Yesterday we discussed one approach from the Sefas Emes to explain how Rashi knew that “im bechukosai teileichu” means ameilus baTorah and not simply learning. The Maharal in Gur Aryeh asks this same question and offers two answers, both of which focus on the pasuk’s use of the word “halicha”:
1) Travel is burdensome and difficult. For those who live in NY, think of what it’s like to be stuck in traffic on the Cross Bronx or the Van Wyck. The type of learning the pasuk is referring to is learning that is equally challenging.
2) A person who travels moves from place to place. So too, a person who learns with ameilus will move to greater and greater depths in his learning.
In Rav Hartman’s edition of the Gur Aryeh he footnotes this second answers and refers to a question R’ Hutner raises in Pachad Yitzchak on Shavuos. Every mitzvah, especially one done with proper effort and intent, should move a person to deeper spirituality. Why is it that the concept of halicha is only connected to talmud Torah?
Rav Hutner answers that when the Maharal talks about halicha in this context he is not talking about the gavra, the person, but rather about the cheftza shel mitzvah. Whether you put in tremendous work to obtain a pair of tefillin or make a pair of tefillin or just walk into the sofer with a dispensable wad of cash and in five minutes have for yourself the best pair tefillin on the market, at the end of the day the tefillin are the same tefillin. Not true when it comes to talmud Torah. Someone who works all day and comes up with an answer to a question of R’ Akiva Eiger is learning a different Torah than someone who doesn’t know that answer. More than that: even if he doesn’t come up with an answer, just the time spent thinking about the R’ Akiva Eiger transforms his understanding and appreciation of Torah so that the material being learned is completely different.
The Igra d’Kallah at the end of Bechukosai writes that the brachos of “v’nasana ha’aretz yevulah v’eitz ha’sadeh yitein piryo” are midah k’neged midah. The person learning with ameilus causes a halicha, an expansion of the world of Torah – his learning produces intellectual fruit and pays intellectual dividends. In turn, the earth rewards that person by producing its fruits and paying dividends of weath.
Chazal deliberately refer to one who is “shoneh halachos” because they are alluding to this element of halicha, of expansion, of creative growth, of intellectual fruit. Olam ha’ba is where we enjoy the radiance from the “ziv haShechina.” It’s only by causing Torah to radiate and expend outward, that midah k’neged midah can a person earn the bracha of the radiance of the Shechina expanding outward to envelop him.