Sunday, August 30, 2015

#BlogElul Days 14-15: Learn and Change

When Rabbi DovBer of Lubavitch was a young man, he lived in the same house as his father, Rabbi Schneur Zalman. Rabbi DovBer and his family lived in the ground floor apartment, and Rabbi Schneur Zalman lived on the second floor.
One night, while Rabbi DovBer was deeply engrossed in his studies, his youngest child fell out of his cradle. Rabbi DovBer heard nothing. But Rabbi Schneur Zalman, who was also immersed in study in his room on the second floor, heard the infant's cries. The Rebbe came downstairs, lifted the infant from the floor, soothed his tears, replaced him in the cradle, and rocked him to sleep. Rabbi DovBer remained oblivious throughout it all.
Later, Rabbi Schneur Zalman admonished his son: "No matter how lofty your involvements, you must never fail to hear the cry of a child."
What is the point of learning if not to facilitate change? Yes, learning for its own sake (lishma) has its rewards, but learning must lead to change, to transformation. We should find our perspective different, our way of engaging the world different, and most importantly, learning should lead us to improving the world, engaging the world for the better. If learning cuts us off from the needs of others, we have failed. If it makes us more sensitive and responsive, then it can be said that our learning is truly lofty. 

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