The sign of successful Torah study is when it becomes an insatiable addiction. If something doesn’t make sense, you will rack your brains to figure it out. And every time you succeed in working it out, the pleasure makes you want more and more. This level is called Ahavat Torah — true love of Torah. You become so overwhelmed that Torah study becomes your very essence and you want to absorb as much as you can.
Now, while I really want to be at that point, I just can’t seem to get there. I’ve been confused about my lack of motivation, but after reading some teachings of on the topic of prayer by Rabbi Lazer Brody (side note: how cool would it be to have the name “Lazer?”), I may have the answer:
If hitbodedut is so pleasant, convenient, and easy, why isn’t everyone speaking to Hashem for an hour a day? What’s stopping people from doing what they know is right and beneficial, from talking to Hashem in personal prayer?
The answer is that the Yetzer Hara – the Evil Inclination – knows full well the virtues of hitbodedut. He knows that by way of personal prayer, a person will realize his potential to the maximum and see blessings of success in all of his endeavors. Most of all, personal prayer is the vehicle that brings a person close to Hashem, to his true mission in life, and to his soul correction. For these reasons, the Yetzer Hara will fight tooth and nail against hitbodedut and do everything to convince and discourage a person from doing personal prayer.
Now, I’ve never been comfortable with anything that even slightly resembles a “the devil made me do it” defense, but I also know my knowledge is nowhere near that of Rabbi Brody. So, is it entirely possible that my desire for comfort and fear of the unknown qualify as some sort of “evil inclination” that have me spinning my wheels and going nowhere? Sadly, they are.
Problem diagnosed. Now, for a solution…