Last week, we defined the legal reality of a kinyan as when an actual, real, situation is formalized as belonging that way. As such, I can possess an item; but I can also own it, meaning that it belongs to me. As such, even when it is no longer in my possession, it must be returned to the place where it belongs. A man and woman can live together as man and wife, and the state of marriage exists. What legalizes it (in Halachah) is the kinyan  called kiddushin —now the couple belongs  together, and can only undo the now-legalized state of marriage through a counter-kinyan (i.e., a Jewish divorce).

In that sense, we saw that the Torah we learn, study, understand, review, remember, and is one that we aspire to be koneh— to acquire. We wondered exactly what that means; especially in light of Chazal’s reference to Toras Hashem (Hashem’s Torah) becoming ‘Toraso’ (the Torah of the person studying it). Thus, we have 48 character traits depicted in Pirkei Avos as being the ways in which one acquires Torah. With our new understanding of the concept of ‘kinyan,’ here it would mean that the Torah belongs to him (or her). If so what are the ramifications of that status?

The first facet of this ownership, which we touched upon last week, is the principle of lo bashamayim hee; namely, that the Torah was given to the understanding of people, with their human rational faculties. (This of course only applies to “insiders” of Torah who understand the logic and dialectic of Torah, as we wrote last week.) It is my Torah, the way that I understand it, in the place to which my logic leads. So intense is this reality that we find that even when Hashem Himself, so to speak, says that His intention in the Torah would have demanded a certain Halachic conclusion, we follow an opposite decision of the Sages and Rabbis (see Bava Metzia 86a). This is because they have been koneh Torah —indeed, the Torah is theirs, they have absorbed and embedded so much Torah into their essence that the Torah now ‘belongs’ by them, and hence will be determined by their understanding of it. (This is possible only since it is part of the system that Hashem Himself decided to implement). The very idea of chiddush, the insight and clarity that one develops in learning is connected to this idea, since it is his or her personal understanding. In fact, the Ketzos Hachoshen writes in his introductory remarks to his famous sefer of that name, that this idea is even more essential when the innovator’s logic is for some reason faulty (though of course not blatantly or openly so). Still, it is a legitimate thought, and Hashem, as it were, reckons with it as a human understanding of Torah. The Ketzos posits that if a thought must to be 100% accurate, what makes it his Torah? A thought that does not deviate from the truth at all is the very Torah that Hashem has already declared in the heavens! What Hashem expects after giving us the Torah is our human understanding of it.

Another ramification of a kinyan Torah is the power of memory. Surely, we remember things best when they are part of what we are and who we are. Moreover, if the Torah belongs by me, it certainly is easier to re-possess it when temporarily lost! Both reviewing and remembering are going to be more accessible and not as burdensome when the Torah has a permanent home with me, rather than a guest.

Another ramification of kinyan Torah is the fact that Torah study has the potential to be transformative. As the beraisa in the sixth chapter of Avos states, “Whoever learns Torah for the sake of the learning itself (not for any ulterior motive)… is called beloved of Hashem… it envelopes him with humility… and acts upon him to be a tzaddik, an upright person, trustworthy… people enjoy benefitting from his wisdom, his counsel, his acumen, his shrewdness and his understanding.” One can learn Torah, one can even understand Torah, yet all too often, it does not seem to have any salutary effects upon the learner. In order to achieve for the fulfillment of these words of our Sages, one needs to have a kinyan in Torah before any sort of metamorphosis can take place.

Another result of the ‘acquisition’ of which we speak is a technical one. There appears to be an anomaly in the laws of birchos haTorah —the berachos that we recite before we actually commence learning. (This type of berachah should be birchos hamitzvos, and should follow the rules of those berachos.) According to the rules governing such berachos, when an unusual amount of time passes in between performances of a mitzvah –especially if there is also hesech hada’as (meaning, one’s mind becomes involved in other matters) –would require that another berachah be made upon resuming the mitzvah. However, this most definitely does not apply to Torah study, even as a matter of stringency. For example, a person who recites birchos haTorah in the morning and then goes to works for nine hours before finally sitting down to his shiur or his chavrusah, need not —and may not— repeat birchos haTorah! This becomes even more puzzling when we realize that this is true even when one was in situations in the interim when one is not permitted  to learn (e.g., in the restroom). Such situations certainly dictate that a new berachah be said with regards to any other mitzvah!

The answer may indeed lie in our new understanding that learning Torah is so much more than simply amassing knowledge. Every time one learns, one is participating in a personal kabbalas haTorah; a transformation is taking place on a personal level —from Toras Hashem to Toraso! He has been koneh Torah to some extent. Indeed, just as we find regarding monetary kinyan that even if an item has slipped away —indeed, even if it is no longer bireshuso— nevertheless, the fact that one owns the item, that it belongs  to him, makes all the difference in the world. By right of ownership, it must be returned and has the legal status of being in the state of “being returned.” So too, with the kinyan of Torah, a person is always in a state of “I’m going back to learn,” and thus no new berachah need be recited.

Thus we see that when the beraisa speaks of being koneh Torah and the Gemara refers to the Torah becoming his, it is a real description —not a poetic one— with all of the relevant ramifications and consequences.