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Thought for the Day: Learning Torah Always Helps, Even While Engaged in Unorthodox Behavior

I have a friend who likes to ask hypotheticals... situation that may or may not happen, but are true enough and bring out interesting questions in halacha and/or philosophy.  The most recent was:
Situation: Sam and Jake, two believing but lazy orthodox Jews (ie, buy into the orthodox point of view, just too intellectually lazy to always carry that through to action) are planning to dine on (non-kosher) tuna sandwiches at a non-kosher restaurant (Denny's or the like).
Question: Should they discuss divrei Torah over they meal in fulfillment of the exhortation of Chazal in Avos 3:3 (and other places), or would that be disrespectful?
I had a response, but held my tongue (briefly).  I first addressed the question to another friend of mine, who responded (as I expected), "Of course!  What does one (eating non-kosher food) have to do with the other (learning torah)?"  In fact, that very issue has been discussed here before, in There are 613 Independent Mitzvos.  So I basically agreed with my friend, but had a somewhat sharper response (as he, and surely everyone else reading this expected).

I decided to answer with a mashal.  The G"ra says that for a mashal to be effective, the receiver has to already understand both the plain meaning of the mashal and the know what underlying issue it is intended to be addressing.  The fact that the receiver understands the plain meaning allows the giver of the mashal to convey more than plain, dry, meaning; it permits him to invoke feelings as to the intensity of the situation.

Case in point, I answered as follows: If Bob were injecting recreational drugs using a dirty and infected needle, would he stop taking antibiotics?

Do you think that is a bit sharp?  It's actually woefully short of the mark.  Chazal tell us (Kiddushin 30b) that HaShem created the yeitzer hara and created the Torah as its only antidote.  We only take antibiotics because we have experimented and found they work; others may work better, but this is all we have.  Torah, on the other hand comes with a guarantee from the Creator Himself that it will cure the yeitzer hara.  As far as using a dirty needle to inject recreational drugs, the most possible damage it can do is take 70 or 80 years of life and cause some pain that can be managed with palliative care.  The unrepaired damage done by the slightest sin, however, is eternal.  Moreover, since there is no time in olam haba, the pain is just as intense after years and decades and centuries and eons as it was the first moment.

So I would say, yes, they should learn at their treif meal.  With enough learning, they will wake from their mortal slumber and awaken to a life worth living every single moment.


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