The Torah Forgotten from the Jewish People

A horrible prophecy is learned out from Amos, in Maseches Shabbos daf 138b. The b’raisa states that the Torah will be forgotten from Klal Yisroel, rachmono litzlon. Chazal learn this out from a series of peskuim in Amos, all of which are brought there in the gemoro itself. There are examples there given of the situations that will occur, about Tumos and Taharos (subject of impurity and purity), and the people won’t be able to answer. R’ Shimon bar Yochai says in regards to this, “Chas v’sholom the Torah should be forgot from Yisroel! It says ‘For it (the Torah) will not be forgotten from mouths of his descendants.’ How do I explain the posuk ‘They shall roam to seek the word of Hashem and they will not find?’ That they won’t find clear halocho and clear Mishnah in one place.” Rashi explains that the lack of clear halocho refers to the reasoning for halocho, in order that there shouldn’t be machlokes (disagreement).

While it is true that on the surface Torah has not been forgotten from Klal Yisroel, like R’ Shimon says will absolutely not happen, there are things that have been forgotten. From the day the Torah Sh’Baal Peh was written down, a certain dimension from learning Torah was lost, that was learning directly from a teacher face to face. There have been tzaddikim who say that the minhagim of the tzaddikim are an aspect of Torah Sh’Baal Peh, in that they show us how to conduct ourselves. From this idea, we can see that minhagim of Klal Yisroel are included in this, since it says in the posuk, “עמך כולם צדיקים”, “Your people are all tzaddikim.” Unfortunately, in the modern era, many minhagim are forgotten or replaced by what the “mainstream” minhagim are. This isn’t a problem unique to Chassidish or Ashkenazi communities, I’ve heard of this as a problem as well among the various groups of Sefardim. We could say that the B’raisa itself is warning us that our מנהגים הטהורים, our pure customs, will be forgotten in time.

Rebbe Nachman says every Yid should learn Shulchon Oruch every day, so as to be able to tell the difference between Tameh v’Tahor, Issur v’Heter, impurity and purity, what is forbidden and what is permitted. This general principle must also be used to evaluate our minhagim, because sometimes traife minhagim enter Klal Yisroel and pretend to be kosher. There are many known examples of these types of things v’hamayvin yovin. Only through learning Torah, both Toras HaNigleh as expressed through the simple halocho of the Shulchon Oruch, as well as Toras HaNistar as taught by our holy sages: Rashbi, Raavad, Ha’Arizal, R’ Chaim Vital, the Baal Shem Tov, the Baal HaTanya, Rebbe Nachman, and the other tzaddikim and rebbes from the Ashkenazim and the Sefardim, can we truly figure out what minhagim and pathways are truly proper for us. Through learning Torah the soul becomes clarified and cleansed, as well as the body, so in the seforim we can find the proper הנהגות, extra-halachic practices, that we are personally meant to follow. This is also an aspect to what Chazal say that if someone can’t learn or do a mitzvah lishmoh, they should do it anyway and eventually they’ll do it lishmoh; since the neshomo and guf will become pure and more clarified to be a receptacle for Hashem’s Light through learning and doing mitzvos, even if one starts doing these things not lishmoh, the light of the neshomoh will break through the darkness of coarse desire and corporeality and cause a person to really love doing mitzvos and learning lishmoh entirely.

Our great and wonderful Aibishter should bentsh us all with simcha, sholom, and growth in avodas Hashem; we should all merit to see the Geulah Shleimah swiftly in our days.

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