a life of prayer

The Tanya today points out that learning Torah overrides any mitzwoth that one can perform through a messenger. However, any mitzwah that requires one to do themselves, overrides the mitzwah to learn Torah.

Here's a quote from the commentary of Lessons in Tanya explaining why:

Thus, the goal of making this world an abode for G‑d is achieved primarily through mitzvot of action. Therefore, when presented with the opportunity of performing a mitzvah that others cannot fulfill, one must fulfill this mitzvah even at the cost of interrrupting his Torah studies, so that G‑d’s desire for “an abode in the lower realms” be realized.

If, however, the mitzvah that clashes with one’s Torah study can be fulfilled by others, the choice is no longer between respecting or ignoring G‑d’s desire for “an abode...” — whether he suspends his Torah study to perform the mitzvah, or continues his studies and leaves the mitzvah to others, this objective will be realized regardless. The choice is now between studying Torah and actively performing a mitzvah; and here Torah study prevails because of the superior level of unity that it effects between the Torah student’s soul and G‑d.

I'd just like to interject that there is a notion that yichudim and tefillah effect a higher union than even Torah study, and prayer actually brings you to new levels of learning and vice versa, as we've mentioned in the past here.

The Talmud says that ideally man should pray all day. Prayer is connected to the קרבן תמיד the eternal offering. Torah commands us in the mitzwah of Torah Learning night and day, והגית בו יומם ולילה.

We can see from this that a Jew's life is a constant struggle between prayer and learning, running (רץ) and sitting. (שב) But, to me, there's a level of performance of a mitzwah that is prayer, and a level of learning that is also prayer. Whereas Torah Learning may have to stop sometimes, prayer never does.


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