One of my great fascinations since beginning “learning” is the topic of “Derech Halimud”, the methodology of learning Torah topics. The issue has given me angst, led me to consult big rabbis, read books on the topic etc.
At one point, I was reading an index of topics of a collection of letters written by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. One of the listings was “Derech Halimud.” I rushed to the page to see what he had written on this topic. I can’t find that letter now. But I remember the jist of it. It went something like this. “You ask about method in learning Chassidus. Back in the day, we didn’t talk about learning so much; we just learned. Just learn.”
Now that sounds a little flippant at first. And in fact, the Lubavitcher Rebbe did write other letters to people looking for a basic syllabus of what to learn first, second, third. So the search is genuine. But learning is about amassing new perspectives and ideas, one after another, hand over fist. And I’ve come to realize that if I spend hours and weeks studying fascinating books on the “correct derech halimud”, I will have spent a nice chunk of a lifetime having learned Torah, as it is a topic in Torah; but also having learned nothing.
Sometimes, I look at the books on my desk, or shelf, and get discouraged by how much more I have to learn just to know what I consider to be the basics. All that kvetching will get me not far at all. Just learn!