When told about the spiritual value of learning Torah, the reaction of many students is to agree that it may well be true – “but we are on too low a spiritual level for it to apply for us, both because our learning standard is so low and because our relationship with Hashem is so poor.”
They are sadly mistaken; they don’t realize that Hashem loves every single Jew very dearly. At every moment He is waiting for you to fulfill your spiritual obligations to serve Him in whatever way you are capable of. When you do learn Torah – at your own level – then you and your Torah are beloved in Hashem’s eyes to an extent that we cannot even imagine. Whether you are aware o f it or not. He is pouring His spiritual bounty down on to you.
This is true of every sphere and every level of learning Torah, without any exceptions. In the Gemara it says that the world exists because o f רבן בית של תינוקות של פיהם הבל – the empty words that come from the mouths o f children o f the schoolroom, because their meaningless talk is untainted by sin. The Chafetz Chaim says that it refers to very young schoolchildren, and the level of Torah that they learn is not very high since they are too young to understand it properly. From this we can infer that learning Torah even at lower levels contains the spiritual elements of Torah-study.
All the same, as explained by the Derech Chaim, the superiority of Torah learnt at a loftier level can not be denied. The more you understand o f what you learn, the more the Torah’s truth becomes clearer and more obvious to you. You will feel the Torah’s exalted light of spirituality shining through your soul with increased brilliance, and your contact with Hashem intensified.
Even if his behavior causes a person to fall very low spiritually, ח״ו, he can still learn Torah, and that Torah is very dear to Hashem. From some ספרים it might be understood that it is not so; – but see what is written in the דאיגרתא קריינא o f the יעקב קהלות on the subject: He explains in detail why it can not be that our Sages meant that a person on a low spiritual level should not learn Torah. It would not be right to suggest that if a person is experiencing a spiritual decline, the Torah he learns is not holy and blessed. Our Sages say that when a wicked man occupies himself with Torah, the radiance within it will bring him back on to the right track, in other words they are saying that the Torah’s radiance is present even in Torah learnt by sinful people.
The Nefesh HaChaim too, writes to the effect that if someone finds himself struggling in the murky depths o f a sinful life, it is through learning Torah that he can get the spiritual strength he needs to escape from it. If he learns, Hashem will give him the spiritual strength to repent and put right the harm he has caused. The conclusion, therefore, is that someone who ו חי feels that he is backsliding spiritually, is even more strongly obligated to intensify his Torah studies, and devote himself to it with all his might and in every way possible.
It still remains true that the more righteous a person, the more his learning builds up his relationship with Hashem and brings his soul more of His exalted light. All the same, even for someone who is not so righteous, or going through a temporary spiritual depression, learning Torah is an extremely powerful force which actively draws him closer to Hashem and His exalted light.