Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Not Even Close

​   by Reb Gutman Locks   

Not Even Close?


     After discussing the infinite nature of Hashem with some yeshiva students I tried to point out that every yeshiva has some things that they are good at teaching and some things that they are not good at teaching. I explained that they should take the good that their yeshiva offers them and not worry the areas that they are not good at teaching.

     They asked about their yeshiva and I told them, "Your yeshiva is excellent in teaching you how to learn gemara (Talmud) which is the very backbone of learning Torah, but they fail miserably when it comes to teaching about Hashem." I told them that they would not be able to gain any spiritual understanding from that yeshiva. To exaggerate my point I said, "In fact, they do not allow G-d in their yeshiva."

      One of the boys objected, "That's not true," he insisted, "Just the other day the rabbi told us that we do mitzvahs to come close to G-d."

     "Baloney! That's exactly what I was talking about. Where is G-d?"

     "Everywhere!" they answered.

     "Then there is no distance between you and G-d. The word 'close' leads you to believe that there is empty space between you and Hashem. This means you have to work to fill a space that does not exist! What should the rabbi have said about doing mitzvahs?"

     They did not know how to answer.

     I said, "Doing mitzvahs increases your awareness of Hashem's presence. Mitzvahs increase your love for Hashem and His Torah. They give you greater knowledge of Hashem. They make you more dear to Hashem. These are the kinds of things that mitzvahs do."

     Although the word 'close' has a secondary meaning of 'emotionally near' this is not the way the word is usually understood. For instance, you could say that you want to get closer to your parents. You mean that you want to be emotionally warmer with them. But this is not the way these boys understood the rabbi. They went away feeling that there is a physical distance between them and Hashem and that doing mitzvahs reduces that distance.

     Hashem gave us His mitzvahs so we could understand His ways and what He wants from us. He wants us to emulate Him. For instance, Hashem is charitable so He commands us to give charity. Hashem is loving so He commands us to love one another. Hashem is holy so He gave us His holy mitzvahs to fulfill so we can become holy too.



  1. Beautifully explained and so true; but there is another area where yeshivahs might be lacking and that is Jewish history such as Nach, the neviim part of Torah (Tanach). These boys who sit and learn Gemorah all day, might know very, very little of our great ancestors and even the importance of the Land of Israel. They need to learn that G-D, Torah, children of Israel and the land of Israel are = ONE!

  2. I don't understand why Rabbi Locks thinks the boys thought of it as a physical space. That would be very strange. But,truly, without learning chassidus (I learn mostly Chabad), you can't even begin to appreciate Hashem.

  3. I look forward to their Rosh Yeshiva's response.


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