As a bochur, I always had a sense of dread when I returned to yeshiva for the winter zeman. The winter zeman is the longest one of the three, stretching five or six long months of uninterrupted learning during the freezing cold winter. When I got married and continued learning in kollel, I again experience this dread for the first few days of the winter zeman.What was behind this dread? After all, I was happy with what I was doing. I only wanted to learn, and while I learned, I enjoyed it thoroughly.
I thought about this a lot, and I discovered a secret about learning which remains true with me – and many others – to this day.
Learning Torah is not something that is naturally pleasant to most people. It takes a long time and tremendous effort to get to the point that the experience is so enjoyable that all you want to do is continue learning non-stop. Think about this past bein hazemanim. How much learning did you expect to accomplish, and how much did you actually end up doing? Most of the time, you will come up way short of your original estimate.
Learning Torah is a tremendous undertaking – at first. Only after you throw yourself into the learning, even when you are truly not in the mood and there are a hundred other things going on in your life, do you begin to enjoy the learning.
The long winter does appear daunting at first. But that makes the challenge all the more appealing. Dive right in. Before you know it, you’ll be savoring the experience.