Shavuos – Avodah On Night of Shavuos [#2913]

Question:

The Rav has said that our avodah on the night of Shavuos is to connect, as much as we can, to the “50th Gate of Holiness”, to the level of Torah that was before the sin, to Torah learning amidst mesirus nefesh (self-sacrifice). How can I do this, practically speaking? We know that in Torah learning, a person needs to be intellectually focused, and that a person shouldn’t involve the heart or emotions in it. Therefore, how can I connect to the “50th Gate of Holiness” on the night of Shavuos, which is a “heart” matter? It would make sense if I was learning agadta, which is more of a “heart” kind of study, but what if I’m learning regular Gemara, which requires a focused intellect? How can I stay focused on my learning on Shavuos night while also trying to reach the “50th Gate” in my Torah learning on the night of Shavuos? (Obviously this question will only bother a person who is interested in avodas Hashem, as opposed to those who only learn Torah for purely academic and intellectual purposes).

Answer:

Before beginning to learn, concentrate with your heart, from the depths of your heart and from thoughts of repentance (as stated in sefer Nefesh HaChaim, shaar IV). Your heart should mainly be used before beginning to learn, as a preparation for learning. After you have made this “heart” preparation well, attach your thoughts, calmly, and with precise focus, as you calmly concentrate with your mind, in a deep and penetrating way [to the Torah discussions you are learning] until you have exhausted your thoughts, amidst inner silence, calmness, and pleasantness. Keep repeating this process, in a cycle, as much as you can on your own level, by using the abilities of your soul. Make sure that you do not exhaust your thoughts too much, to the point that you cannot think properly afterwards, chas v’shalom – for that is an error that many have fallen into. Every so often, you should break up your thinking process by calming your thoughts.

In this way, practically speaking, you can begin your Torah learning sessions with repentance and a clear heart, and then by connecting your mind to the Torah discussions you are learning about, concentrating with all of your focus, but amidst pleasantness, as stated earlier, and then by calming your mind. Keep repeating the cycle. This kind of learning closely resembles the way that the Chazon Ish would learn Torah for all of his life.