The Power of Uninterrupted Torah Learning

There are many sources which highlight the importance of Torah learning without interruption. Torah learning should be lengthy and in depth.

1. The Gemara in Shabbat (11a) says that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his colleagues did not daven. They constantly learned Torah without any breaks. Since they never stopped, they were exempt from praying. We take all sorts of breaks to do this and that, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 106:2) therefore rules that we also stop to daven. Nonetheless, we see the ideal of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his colleagues.

2. The Gemara in Berachot (8a) relates that Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Asi davened in the place where they learned Torah, even if there was no minyan. The Rama in Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 90:18) rules that we do not act this way so that the unknowledgeable do not follow this practice. They did not go to shul so that they would not take up the time to go back and forth. They could immediately return to learning after praying.

3. The Midrash (Ketubot 62b-63a) explains how Rabbi Akiva went to learn in yeshiva for 12 years. When he returned, he overheard someone saying to his wife, "How long will you be like a widow waiting for him?" She replied that she would prefer that he learn for another 12 years! Rabbi Akiva turned around and went back to the yeshiva for another 12 years. Ha-Rav Chaim Shmulevitz in "Sichot Musar" asks, why didn't Rabbi Akiva come in to say shalom or have a cup of coffee with his wife? Answer: Because 12 years plus 12 years of Torah learning is not the same as 24 continuous years.

4. There was a secret society established in the Volozhin Yeshiva called "Nes Tziona," with the purpose of spreading the idea of settling the Land of Israel among the Nation. A group of students signed a document describing its activities. Maran Ha-Rav Kook's signature did not appear on it even though he was learning there at the time. Someone once asked our Rabbi, Rav Tzvi Yehudah, why Maran Ha-Rav Kook was not part of it? He asked, "He was learning Torah" (see Tal Ha-Re'eiyah, p. 68).