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We have a tradition that Torah is sweet, and learning it brings immense joy. I have found this to be true, and indisputable.

However, the question is if this is
a) nature or nurture or
b) meant to be specifically nature or nurture or
c) is actually nature or nurture.

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  • of interest: hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=31639&pgnum=160 -- A discussion of sweetness on different levels (an apple, a song, and an idea), and how they are all the same thing, just expressed differently on its level. This could be used to understand that just like an apple is sweet by nature, so too is the Torah sweet by nature.
    – Menachem
    Commented May 1, 2018 at 20:55
  • How can you find an opinion to be indisputable? Commented May 2, 2018 at 0:10
  • 1
    @BallpointBen the OP speaks of a tradition, not an opinion
    – mbloch
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 13:09
  • Then, how is an opinion a tradition? Commented May 2, 2018 at 14:01
  • Is that which a lolly is sweet, nature or nurture?
    – pcoz
    Commented Jan 6, 2022 at 23:17

3 Answers 3

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the ohr hachaim on parsha emor says that the spiritual and the physical strongly oppose each other, even more than between water and fire.

Since the torah is spiritual, it follows that a person would not like it at first and his physical side will fight it, but if he strengthens more and more spiritually through the mitzvos and pushing himself against his natural laziness, he will connect more and more with the torah and it will become increasingly sweet.

And in Pirkei Avos "this is the way of torah, eat bread with salt, sleep on the floor, etc.", which means to distance as far as possible from physical pleasures.

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  • -¿Some sources?
    – user17369
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 16:40
  • @Nezikinn it's all over chazal. for example: Yalkut Shimoni 247:830: "before a man prays that the words of Torah enter his innards, he should first pray that food and drink not enter them".
    – michael
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 16:59
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One interesting approach showing delight from Torah is actually nature starts from the idea that the neshama that Hashem implanted in us comes from a high source, as Chovos HaLevavos (Sha’ar Avodas Elokim 3:2) explains (quoted here)

When Hashem created man, He joined two distinct elements to form his living soul. These are his spiritual soul (what we call his neshamah) and his animal soul. The conscious “I” that thinks and feels is made up of both parts. The neshama comes from under the throne of Hashem's glory. It is pure and lofty, holy and sublime. All that it wishes for is that which is good, proper, and noble. Because it comes from the upper worlds, it derives no benefit from this world and can’t relate to any of its pleasures. The other part of man’s soul is very different. It is exactly like that of an animal, with all of the passions and desires necessary to keep it alive. That is his animal soul.

Just as the body needs food to live and grow, the neshama also needs "food". There are sources that write the food of the neshama is Torah. As such the joy from learning Torah would literally come from feeding the neshama with its expected nourishment.

Two sources I have found so far on this are

Since through the knowledge of Torah the Torah is absorbed in the soul and intellect of the person and is encompassed within them,it is therefore called the “bread” and “food” of the soul. [...] through the knowledge and comprehension of Torah by the soul of a person who studies it well, with the concentration of his intellect, to the point where the Torah is grasped by his mind and is joined with him so that they become one, [the Torah thereby] becomes food for the soul. (Tanya chapter 5)

Wisdom is demanded by the soul as the food is demanded by the body. (Ibn Ezra on Isaiah 55:1)

(see also the introduction to Mishna Berura, at length)

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A story with Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman Ztl is told like this: A young man asked Rav Shteinman, "How come I have no taste for Torah?" The Rav answered, "Honey is sweet, but if you have cuts on your tongue it will burn and not taste sweet. So too, Torah is naturally sweet, but if you use your mouth for obscenities you won't be able to taste the sweetness of Torah."

According to this story, Torah is naturally sweet. But the "nurture" a person gives himself can obstruct him from tasting its sweetness.

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