The Torah Mind
Every idea and every attitude in the Torah is a thought of Hashem, and every detail of the Torah that one incorporates into his own thinking process is a great accomplishment...
by Rabbi Avigdor Miller
One of the greatest accomplishments of a Jew in this world, and something that one must strive for all his days, is to develop a Torah mind. Every idea, every ideal and every attitude in the Torah is a thought of Hashem, and every detail of the Torah that one incorporates into his own thinking process, into his own mindset, is a great accomplishment. It is the greatness, the perfection, of thinking along with Hashem.
Now, the goal is not just to know, not just to be aware or even to understand what Hashem says about something. It is not sufficient to know that Hashem says that a certain sin is an abomination and that a mitzvah is a positive thing. The success of a true servant of Hashem is to actually feel the way Hashem feels. And that is the great success of the creation of the Torah mind that thinks along with Hashem.
But this excellence, this greatness, involves much more than the training of one's mind to synchronize his thoughts with those that Hashem has modeled for us in the Torah. The greatness of the Torah mind will never be accomplished with cold and detached thoughts. You are obligated to transform your Torah thoughts into feelings and emotions so that you overcome the superficiality of mere thoughts. In doing so, you will transform yourself into a person who has a true Torah mind. Living with a Torah mind means mobilizing your emotions and feelings towards the goal of transforming these thoughts into actual feelings. In that way, these thoughts become a part of who you actually are.
I have been asked many times the following question: Why is it that we find in the Torah and in the words of Chazal that the word "heart" is used to signify the mind and the thoughts of a person? The mind thinks. The brain thinks. Not the heart. So why do we say "heart"?
The holy tongue is not a bluff language. It's honest. When a person thinks with his mind, he must be interested. When you're really interested in something, your heart starts beating quicker. It's through the heartbeat, the emotions, that you can determine if someone is really interested in the subject.
So your mind thinks about something, but that's only a general and pale idea. But if your heart beats and you're excited about it, that's a thought. That's why the heart is the symbol of thought. Because the heart is the litmus test of how sincere the thought is.
Therefore, for one to acquire this greatness of thinking along with Hashem, he must give life to his thoughts by mobilizing all of his emotions, his heartbeat, to be in sync with the thoughts of Hashem. When the Torah tells us that a certain thing is wrong, it must become actually disgusting in a person's mind. And when Hashem tells us what is required of us, it must become our own desire and not just a superficial thought or idea. Only then, when both your mind and your heart have internalized a Torah attitude, are you thinking along with Hashem.
If you don't take this idea, this lesson, and utilize it, then you are wasting your time in this world. You can accomplish great things if you begin to put these ideas to use. For instance, if the most beautiful actress in the world would meet you in the street and say, "Young man, I like you. Maybe you'll come visit me?" So you should think that she smells like a dead cat that's been rotting in the street for ten days in the July sun. And that's how she does smell, if you've trained yourself to think like Hashem. When you see something forbidden, even if the forbidden thing is perfumed and trying to smell like roses, you should train yourself to feel like you're smelling a filthy garbage can. And I'll tell you what you should really do. What should you do? You should lean over and sniff the nearest dirty garbage can. Sniff it. Don't just leave it up to your imagination. Make the truth of Hashem's thoughts real to you. That is training yourself to think and feel along with Him.
Rabbi Avigdor Miller of saintly and blessed memory was one of the great spiritual leaders of Torah Jewry in America during the previous generation. With a courageous commitment to truth, he feared no one but Hashem. As a young man, he left the comforts of America to learn in the Slavodka Yeshiva in Lithuania from 1932-1938. We are honored at Breslev Israel to feature his writings, which we have received from the TorasAvigdor organization in Brooklyn, New York.