It is time to put down the Dvar Torah behavior-patterns for pensioners. Each person must ask: what does my avodah, my service of God, look like in my old age?
I think about the revealed Torah. The revealed Knowledge.
Was the Tree of Knowledge a vine or a wheat stalk? This is a deep and fraught argument. There is the vine, coming from a place of ratzoh – striving, that transcends perception and thought: a high state that that reaches a light beyond the limitations of our world. Then there is also wheat, the shuv – the stable force of returning, bowing to limits, of argumentation and awe: the ability to settle in a bare, dry land and to search for God there.
The Revealed Torah is a Torah of Wine: of wonder, sounds and thunder – a wide-eyed yeshiva bochur at the beginning of his journey.
The Concealed Torah, on the other hand, is to be found in the harvest fields, with a servant of God who is mature, centered; one who says “Yes” from a place of almost Stoic certainty. It is time for a long-awaited coronation: a woman of valor is her husband’s crown.
Rav Kook discusses this in a rare confession about his own struggles with Torah learning, which restrains his personal creativity:
It is a question if I should learn; if learning does not dispel, does not dispel the logic of my heart, the soul’s rustling that rises and fall like waves in a storm; if this revelation, which comes from deep within my spirit, is not part of the Torah – which is rooted in an elevated singularity in the soul? If my own learning and this inner activity repel each other – then is not this creative yearning a type of bittul Torah (wasted time)?
But who will solve this eternal question? Who can set the limits for the spirit? Who will say, “Go up here?” Who will go and measure, setting limits, and saying: “Here’s the border of Torah and the manifestation of its revelations – past here there are only the secular ideas and of man, which I might describe in any honorable name of God…poems, prayers, visions, ideas, intellections…but not words of Torah. See, how difficult spiritual life is and how intricate are the expressions of its ways! Who can legislate such boundaries? Who can draw the line in a domain that it’s very foundation is obscure from human view? It is here that we need Divine assistance for revelation.
“He reserves ability for the upright and is a shield for those who live blamelessly” (Proverbs 2:7)
HaRav Abraham Isaac Kook, “His Rooms” 3rd ed., Ramat Gan 2008, p.116-117ז
“I don’t learn anymore: rather I meditate…” – such was Rav Shagar’s saying in his last days.
In our time we see that there is a great thirst among many that will never be satisfied by Daf Yomi study and similar initiatives. It is time to put down the Dvar Torah behavior-patterns for pensioners. Each person – having put aside the old books and matured from his life experiences – must ask: what does my avodah, my service of God, look like in my old age? The answer cannot come from outside. Every person must find his own path of learning and desire, a unique method that can only arise out of his particular life circumstances. There’s no place for ‘borrowed’ clothes in old age. The ‘robes’ must be customized for the body, “Like a snail whose garment is part of its body” (Bereishit Rabbah 21:5).