Wednesday, December 15, 2010

#90 - Learn Torah, Love Torah, Live Torah

The title of this post is taken from the title of a book about the life of Rabbi Mordechai Pinchas Teitz, may the memory of the righteous be for a blessing, who served the community of Elizabeth, New Jersey. Among his most noted accomplishments was his weekly Gemara/Talmud lesson on radio for 36 years from 1953 through 1988 which was called Daf HaShavua - "Page (double-sided folio) of the week". A revolutionary concept at the time he began this, it brought many Jews closer to Judaism and learning Torah. In time, it led to other Torah classes on the radio, and eventually on tape recordings, on the phone, until today's era of the internet where you have a choice of free lessons on any page of the Talmud that you want at any time without even needing a Talmud book if you don't have one, because you can see it on the screen just the same.

The truth is that it was only in the wee hours of this past night that I read the details about this Daf HaShavua program that Rabbi Teitz founded. It was from this that I came up with the title for this post.

Well, the reason that I am writing this today is because this post is focusing on today's Mitzvah #420 - Learning & Teaching Torah. As I mentioned a few months ago in Post #83 (Sep '10), the concept of learning one Mitzvah a day has been going on for nearly 50 years now. Presently, we are in the 30th cycle - and since in Hebrew, the letter Lamed is the Gematria of 30, and the verbs Lilmod/LeLameid - to learn/to teach - is cognate of the name of the letter Lamed, being that this is the very Mitzvah of learning & teaching Torah, it is most appropriate today to be writing about this most important Mitzvah of the Torah that is equal in the value and reward of all the other Mitzvot/commandments of the Torah combined. Indeed, the letter Lamed is the tallest of all the letters of the Alef Beit, no doubt hinting to this uniqueness about the Mitzvah of Torah learning. Hence, we have a trio here of three 30s - the Mitzvah of Lilmod/to learn (30) & LeLameid/to teach (30) in the 30th cycle of learning a daily Mitzvah. And thus, these three 30s add up to the number 90 - the number of this post.

Really, I wanted to spend my time learning Torah as much as I could today, but then again, I realized that TODAY is the day to write this post, as it is under the category of LeLameid - to teach, which is far greater than just learning by myself. Torah is something that needs to be shared with others - so that others will learn and be inspired to be better Jews - something that Rabbi Teitz realized was badly needed in the spiritual desert of the United States nearly 60 years ago. While today, ignorance of Judaism, assimilation and intermarriages are so ever high among Jews in the land of whatever religious freedom is left, even as there are many outreach programs out there, in those days, there weren't even many Yeshivot - Jewish schools - for children to go to. Hence, a whole generation of Jews grew up in perhaps homes that could have been what you would call "kosher", but the children being raised weren't being raised with kosher knowledge.

With this being said, let's get right to discussing Torah about the Mitzvah of Torah.
According to the count of the 613 Mitzvot of the Torah in order of the Chumash - this Mitzvah is the 420th according to the Rambam/Maimonides, based on which is his magnum opus Mishnah Torah. Unfortunately, there is an alternative order of count offered by the Sefer HaChinuch, whose authorship isn't even known for sure, who lists this as the 419th Mitzvah of the Torah.

This general idea that I just wrote is not the first time that I have mentioned this in posting. However, my attempt regarding this in this post is to prove that indeed,
the Mitzvah of learning & teaching Torah is the 420th Mitzvah, since after all, this is a Gematriot blog, which focuses on the significance of numbers in Torah.

A central belief in the Torah is that the Torah is from Hashem, which means that the Torah is not man made, something that disbelievers would not like us to believe. While the rabbis have the power to enact laws, even this is based on what the Torah says, not what they feel is for their own personal benefit. Hence, the Torah is called Torat Hashem- the Torah of Hashem. In the entire Chumash, this phrase is mentioned just once - Lema'an Tihyeh Torat Hashem B'ficha - "in order that the Torah of Hashem will be in your mouth" (Exodus 13:9). The word Tihyeh - "will be" - is the Gematria of 420, which is immediately followed by the phrase Torat Hashem. That is, the 420th Mitzvah is learning and teaching Torah, which is performed with the mouth.

While the Mitzvah of Torah is performed using the mouth - unless one is thinking about how to apply a concept such as how to interpret what the Torah says such as in one of the 13 principles of Torah interpretation -, the term mouth is used in another aspect of the Torah. You see - there are what are called two Torahs, even though they are all one Torah from Hashem - the Torah She'B'Ketav/Written Torah which is the Tanach/Bible & the Torah She'B'Al'Peh/Oral Torah which includes the Shas - the two letters Shin & Samech - which stand for Shisha Sedarim, the six orders of the Talmud (Mishna & Gemara) & the Halachah/Jewish Law. Indeed, the words Shas=360 & Halachah=60 together add up to the Gematria of 420! For indeed, it is through the thought processes of the Shas & the decision of the Jewish Law that separates us Jews from the rest of the world who at best refer to the Bible, but don't follow it as G-dly mandated, who usually get away with as much fun and sin as possible. As mentioned near the beginning of the Talmudic Tractate Avodah Zarah, in the Messianic Era, Hashem will ask who has His Torah. First, the nations will be quick to show the Bible, i.e. Old Testament (no more New Testaments by then), but Hashem will remain unimpressed. Then, the Jews will be showing the Torah - which will include the Shas & Halacha - since this is what is the "secret" recipe of how the Torah works.

Continuing on, let's now add the numbers 420 being that the Mitzvah of Torah is the 420th in the Torah, and the number 60 as the Gematria of Halachah, and this adds the total of 480, the Gematria of Talmud, for it is the Talmud, as being the main applicant of the Mitzvah of learning Torah, not just saying words verbatim, but applying our minds to the subject at hand to understand what the Torah is telling us, and it is through this that we arrive at the correct Halachah.

Now, noting Mitzvah number 420, not only is it the Mitzvah that has to do with the name of the letter Lamed - not once, but TWICE - being the Gematria of 30 so twice this number is the Gematria of Halachah=60, the number 420 is a multiple of both numbers 30 & 60. So, 420 divided by 30 is 14. And as we know, the Rambam, one of the early codifiers, who was one of the very few in the last 1,000 years to compose a book of Halachot on ALL of the Mitzvot of the Torah - not just on the Mitzvot that we are able to keep today in absence of the Holy Temple - divided his halachic work Mishnah Torah into 14 Sefarmim/Books. Another name for this work is called Yad HaChazaka - "The strong hand" - since the word Yad are the very letters that spell the number 14 in Hebrew. On a note related to this, as 420 divided by 60 is seven, and Halacha is the Gematria of 60, there are seven chapters in the Halachot/Laws of Talmud Torah.

Now, where is this most important Mitzvah actually told to us in the Torah? It is the verse that begins V'Shinantam L'Vaneicha V'DeBarta Bam... "You shall teach them diligently to your children and speak of them..." (Deutronomy 6:7) & "You shall teach
them to your children to speak of them..." (Deutronomy 11:19). The word Bam, which literally means in them, refering to the word of the Torah - is the Gematria of 42. And when multiplying this by 10, as there are 10 words in the first verse about this Mitzvah, and being that the Ten Commandments include all of the 613 Mitzvot as stated by the Sa'adiah Gaon, yep, you get the magic number 420.

And then, there is the phrase that we recite every morning as part of the Torah that we first recite following the blessings that we say over learning the Torah - Talmud Torah Knegged Kulam - "The study of Torah equals all of them (the Mitzvot)". As you will note the first Hebrew letters of this phrase, it is Tav-Tav-Kaf-Kaf. As in Hebrew, the number 420 is Tav Kaf, we see a double usage of this very number describing the uniqueness of the Mitzvah of Torah learning! And speaking of DOUBLE, the Jerusalem Talmud (Yevamot 45a) states "The Torah uses double language in its regular way of speech", which means that the Torah will use two consecutive words - usually verbs - that are similar to one another, as its usual jargon. In Hebrew, this is Kefulin Hein HaTorah Dibra K'Darka. Well first, let's take the Tav of the first letter of the word Torah, which equals 400. Now, the word Kefulin "double" begins with the letter Kaf. Also, the last word K'Darka "AS its way" begins with the letter Kaf. As the letter Kaf equals 20, there you have it - the total of 420, used in the context of the Torah speaking in double terminology.

Perhaps we can learn a lesson from this. Yes, Hashem gave us the Torah. But, do we receive it? It is just like when one person sends a piece of mail to someone else. But does that mean that when the latter who is supposed to receive it but the piece of mail never arrived in the mailbox that the sender never sent the piece of mail? Perhaps it was stolen, mixed up with other mail, delivered to the wrong address, etc.
but at least in these circumstances, the one waiting for it did nothing wrong. However, while we claim to be the Chosen Nation since Hashem gave us the Torah, do we live up to our responsibilities? You see, the Torah is a DOUBLE way street - Hashem gives us the Torah, and WE are supposed to give to Him back by reading, learning, teaching, and following his Torah at our end.

You see, this very 420th Mitzvah uses a double wording of a verb, except unlike in most other places or other Mitzvot, these are in fact two DIFFERENT verbs, since while Lilmod & LeLameid are very similar to each other, the first means to learn and the second means to teach. In this format also, you have a DOUBLE action of give & take - the teacher teaching and it is the students who learn on the receiving end, the ultimate fulfillment of the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah in itself, which afterward is supposed to lead us to fulfill the other 612 Mitzvot of the Torah in one way or another (many of which today can only be fulfilled by learning the laws about them, such as the Temple offerings, which have even a higher value in Torah learning than the other parts of the Torah, and is considered as though we brought the very offerings that we learn about in the Torah).

And if this was not enough, the phrase in Hebrew for "all of the Torah" is Kol HaTorah Kulah, where the double usage of Kol/all is being used here as Kula means "all of it," making this phrase to read literally "all of the Torah, all of it." The obvious question here is, why don't we just say "all of the Torah", period?
Well first in terms of Gematria, the words Kol/Kula begin with the letter Kaf=20, so when added to the first letter of the word Torah - Tav=400, again we have the number 420. And it is THIS Mitzvah of which the ultimate fulfillment of it is a DOUBLE action, for learning by oneself only will never get the next generation to do the same. We see that the Torah praises our Patriarch Abraham for "commanding his children and household after him to keep the WAY of Hashem". This goes hand-in-hand with the very wording of the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah - "Teach them (diligently) to your children...when you are on the WAY". "It is the WAY of the Torah to speak in a double wording".

And in the 4th Aliyah of this week's Parshat Vayechi which many learn today being the 4th day of the week, which contains the blessings of Jacob for several of his sons, included is the blessing of Yissaschar, the son that Jacob especially set aside to learn Torah. In fact, the very name of this 420th Mitzvah is Lilmod Torah U'Lelamda "To learn the Torah and to teach it", which is the Gematria of 830, the very Gematria of the name Yissaschar who was the son/tribe especially devoted to this very Mitzvah, as Jacob was himself who was even more connected with this Mitzvah than his father Isaac & his grandfather Abraham. Moreover, both the name Yisrael - Jacob's upgraded name, and the name Yissaschar - of all the tribes - begin with the letters Yud & Sin - the Gematria of 310, and the reward of 310 worlds for the righteous is mentioned in the very last Mishnah, and twice this number is 620 - corresponding to the 620 Mitzvot of the Torah & rabbis.

Today's date - 8 Tevet - marks the day that that King Ptolemy of Egypt ordered 72 rabbis to translate the Chumash for him in Greek. While they all did so independently with the editing of the exact same 15 phrases which would prevent the Torah from being contradictory (this was a big miracle!) as the non-Jews are very good in believing the literal translation of the Bible, and will thus find what seems to be contradictions (except that we have the Oral Torah to explain the discrepancies), this day is considered to be a very sad day in Jewish history. Why? Wasn't it good for the non-Jews to see the beauty of our Torah?

But this was the beginning of the breakdown of our Torah. The Torah was not meant for other nations - this was Hashem's Word ONLY to us. Yes, Hashem knew that in time, the Bible would be the number one printed book in the world, and there are a few non-Jews who behave as good people as a result of it, but the Torah - even if it isn't the Oral Torah - is Hashem's special relationship to us. Now, with the Greek language, the Torah would and was placed in "biblos" status - as just another book on the shelf. The gentiles of the world would not have a comprehension of its HOLINESS. Hence, they would not truly appreciate the Torah for what it is, and expect us to behave the same as they do, even as they also have it on the shelf.

On a better note, we also have a special translation of the Torah - in Aramaic. The reason that I call it special is because this is something that we are supposed to read every week for the upcoming Parsha to be read in the synagogue on the Sabbath. This is called Shnayim Mikra V'Echad Targum - reading each verse of the Parsha twice and then reciting the Aramaic translation once. Of course the question can be asked, why specifically the Biblical verse TWICE? Why not just once, or if repetition is the name of the game - three, four or more times for that matter?

There are indeed reasons given for this, but in line with what I wrote earlier, the Torah "speaks in a DOUBLE languague". Hence, in line of the above regarding the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah, reading/learning the Biblical verses in this fashion emphasizes this point. It is Hashem to us & us to Hashem. And then, we have a translation to confirm that we understand what we just recited. This translation is from a Jew who was born a non-Jew of all people - Onkelos, a nephew of the Roman emperor, and related to Titus, the latter two who were the very ones who destroyed or responsible for destroying our Second Temple.

Perhaps the message we can learn from this is that when we learn Torah the proper way, realizing that it is Hashem Who is speaking to us, then and only then can we make the proper change within ourselves to be the type of people that Hashem want us to people - being infused with the HOLINESS of the Torah, the same way that a non-Jew who converts to being Jewish converts his impure non-Jewish Neshamah/soul to now being a Neshamah of HOLINESS. It is this very holiness that the non-Jews want us to deny, and would prefer that we read our Bibles - but strictly on a philosophical basis without being something that will transform us with Hashem's Mitzvot, for even though the Mitzvah of Torah is the greatest of all Mitzvot, it is considered a Mitzvah - not just intellectual study - ONLY if we observe the other Mitzvot that the Torah commands us to do, even if it means that sometimes, we have to close the holy book to observe these commandments - from daily prayer to holiday rituals, to helping other Jews when the need arises.

You see, while the Mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah is the last Mitzvah of the Torah, the Mitzvah of learning/teaching Torah doesn't make it with an obvious prominent number (until you see how prominent it is on this post) - not as the first Mitzvah either, and in fact, not included in the Ten Commandments. It is Mitzvah 420, seemingly as just another one of the Mitzvot, because there are OTHER Mitzvot that need to be done also. An example that will help illustrate this - if a Jew needs a favor, let's say, lifting up a package that is a bit difficult for him to pick up from the ground, if while one is learning Torah, someone else will right away approach the Jew needing the help to give him the needed assistance, then the one learning Torah should continue. It is only if no one else is around, then the one learning Torah must stop learning until the favor is done for the Jew.

The number one commentary on the Torah/Chumash is Rashi, which many Jews learn on the Parsha on a daily or weekly basis. I think it is safe to say that in ALL observant (Orthodox) Jewish day schools, children are taught Chumash with Rashi. The very first Rashi on the Chumash is a statement from Rabbi Yitzchak. While Rashi starts with Rabbi Yitzchak asking as to why the Torah started particularly with the order of creation rather than from the Mitzvot/commandments, it has been asked as to the significance of why Rashi begins his commentary with a statement particularly from a Rabbi Yitzchak, and the answer given for this was in order to honor his own father whose name was also Yitzchak. In any case, it is fascinating to note that the Gematria of Rabbi Yitzchak guessed it, the magic number 420!

And as far as the one who was the original one to bear the name Yitzchak, the name of the son of Abraham/the father of Jacob, the Torah describes the scenario of the great miracle of Sarah who finally was able to give birth - at the age of 90. Aside from this, her newborn son Yitzchak/Isaac was one of the few in history whose name was coined by Hashem Himself. Additionally, Rashi notes that each of the four letters of Yitzchak's name denotes something significant as to their respective Gematria value: Yud - The 10 Commandments that Yitzchak's future descendants would receive, Tzadi - Sara was 90 years old when she gave birth to Yitzchak, Cheit - Yitzchak was the first one to be given his Brit Mila/circumcision at the age of 8 days old according to Hashem's commandment, Koof - Abraham was 100 years old when his son Yitzchak was born.

As this is my 90th Post, I think it is most significant to note that the fact that Sarah was 90 years old when she gave birth to Yitzchak highlights the fact that he was not just another Jewish child who was born. In fact, he was the FIRST in history to be born Jewish, unlike his father Abraham who was not only not born Jewish, but worshipped idols like the rest of his family until he came to his own senses of the belief in one G-d Who is not like the idols that were able to be seen by the human eye. But also, one is born Jewish ONLY because his mother is Jewish - the fact that his father is Jewish makes absolutely no difference - not because of his last "Jewish" name, or because he had his "BAR mitzvah" in a Reform "Jewish" temple sanctioned by its so called rabbi (very unfortunately, many boys and girls born to a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother have had "bar mitzvahs" and "bat mitzvahs" forced on them, for they have no obligations living a Jewish lifestyle as non-Jews). It is strictly the one who gives birth to a new life who makes the significant contribution of bringing a Jewish soul down to this world.

But while the last few letters of Yitzchak's birth signifying something unique about his life, the first - The 10 Commandments, while they do have a connection with Isaac
in terms of being the ancestor of the Jews who would receive the Ten Commandments, how do we see that this relates ESPECIALLY to Yitzchak, as opposed to his father Abraham or his son Jacob?

Well, as we know, part of the greatest Mitzvah of the Torah is to "teach them to your children." Hence, Isaac was the very FIRST child through whom - Abraham was able to fulfill this most important Mitzvah, even though the Torah - including the Ten Commandments, was not going to be officially given to the Jews for the next 400 years. And as Rashi quotes the Sa'adiah Gaon, the Ten Commandments include all of the 613 Mitzvot of the Torah, the basis of Jewish law, as to how we serve Hashem. Thus, the Ten Commandments have a most significant connection particularly with Isaac's birth. And to note, the final letter of the Alef Beit - Tav - has the Gematria value of 400, and is the beginning letter of the word Torah. It would be exactly 400 years from Isaac's birth that his future descendants would receive the Torah. And Yitzchak was the 20th generation to be born from parents (as Adam & Eve were created by G-d himself) - noting the significance that he was the FIRST to be born Jewish - thus, the number 400 signifying the amount of years that it would take for his descendants to become a nation ready to receive the Torah, along with the number 20 signifying his birth, adds up to the number 420 - the number of the 420th Mitzvah of the Torah - learning Torah and teaching it to one's children (and others as well, but the greatest aspect of this Mitzvah is teaching the Torah to own's own children)!

Hence, when adding the word Rebbe, which means teacher when saying "teacher and student" - to the name Yitzchak - these two words add up to the Gematria of 420, the ultimate results of the Mitzvah of Torah teaching that was performed from the pervious generation of Abraham teaching Torah to his son Yitzchak. While the Rebbe Yitzchak whom Rashi quotes is obviously not the same Yitzchak, it seems that it is not a mere coincidence that the phrase Rebbe Yitzchak would add up to such a significant number that relates especially to the Torah. V'Shinantam L'Vaneich V'Dibarta BAM "You shall teach them diligently to your children and speak OF THEM" where the word BAM is the Gematria of 42, and times the number 10 as in the 10 Commandments signified by the first letter of Yitzchak's name, also adds up to 420. As Rashi quotes Rabbi Yitzchak at the very beginning of his commentary on the Torah "It was not necessary for the Torah to begin except from "This month shall be to you"" this phrase referring specifically to the month of Nissan - the month in which the first Yitzchak was born on!


Since we know that the greatest Mitzvah is Torah learning, perhaps there is a special connection to the Mitzvot that immediately precede and follow this Mitzvah.
Well, the Mitzvah preceding this is Ahavat Hashem/loving Hashem, and the Mitzvah following this is Kriat Shema/reading biblical passages that begin with the verse of Shema Yisrael/Hear O Israel (Deutronomy 6:4). In fact, these Mitzvot are in the midst of the verses immediately following this most recited Chumash verse in the world, and the Mitzvah of Kriat Shema is a continuation of the verse that begins with the Mitzvah of Torah learning. Small wonder then that this Mitzvah of Kriat Shema is the very one that is discussed in the first three chapters of the Mishnah in Tractate Berachot.

In terms of love in Judaism, there is love of Hashem, and then there is love of Jews.
Most interesting, Rabbi Akiva calls this Mitzvah of Ahavat Yisrael - V'Ahavata L'Reiacha Camocha "You shall love your friend (fellow Jew) as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18) - "the great principle of the Torah". In fact, the Gematria of Rabbi Akiva is 395, also the Gematria of the word Mishnah - in which many of Rabbi Akiva's decisions in Halacha are mentioned, and this Mitzvah of Ahavat Yisrael is the 244th Mitzvah of the Torah, and the word Gemara - the explanation of the Mishnah-
is the Gematria of 244. And furthering our amazing connections here, the word Talmud - another name for the Gemara or referring to the Torah She'B'Al'Peh of the Mishnah & Gemara - is the Gematria of Ahavat Chesed/love of kindness. And finally, the word Torah is the Gematria of Gemilut Chasadim/performing deeds of kindness.

The obvious lesson here is that though Torah may be the greatest Mitzvah, a Jew (though we are supposed to treat non-Jews with kindness as well due to the ways of peace), is to be treated with at least as much love as the Torah (perhaps even more than the Torah but I'll leave it up to the Torah scholars to debate this issue), for after all, it is the Jews who are the ones who observe the Torah, for without this, the Torah would hardly serve any meaning. In fact, when Hashem gave the Torah to the Jewish people, the angels had a hard time accepting this fact, although the Torah was not meant for angels who don't have the temptations and challenges that people have to be given a Torah that tells them what to do or not do. The very first word Bereishit, as pointed out by Rashi, notes that this word hints to both the Torah & and the Jews - B'shvil Reishit - Hashem created the world "for the sake of Reishit/the beginning" and both the Jews and the Torah are called Reishit, for if not for the Jews and the Torah - and the Jews accepting and observing the Torah - the world not have a further reason to exist. And indeed, the final word of the Torah/Chumash is the word Yisrael - the Jews.

As this is Post #90, the Hebrew word for 90 is Tish'im/ninety. In turn, the word Tishim is the Gematria of 820. And lo and behold, the phrase V'Ahavata L'Reiacha Camocha - the very words in the Torah of the Mitzvah of Ahavat Yisrael - is also the Gematria of 820, the "big principle of the Torah". That's very nice, you may say, but is there an intrinsic connection between this Mitzvah and the number 90?

The name of the letter having the Gematria of ninety is Tzadi. In fact, there are some who call this letter Tzadik, which means a righteous person. Indeed, the Talmud (Shabbat 104) goes into detail about the significance of the Hebrew letters, and the letter Tzadi indeed refers to a Tzadik. In Judaism, a Tzadik is righteous BOTH in the Torah AND in his relationship with Jews.

As I pointed out a little earlier, there is the concept of reviewing the Parsha every week, saying the Biblical verse twice and then the Aramaic translation once, this translation coming from Onkelos, a convert to Judaism. In fact, we call such a person in Hebrew a Ger Tzedek "righteous convert". In fact, there is another Mitzvah in the Torah to love a Ger Tzedek; hence, loving such a Jew - who was not born Jewish - in fact bears observance of TWO commandments - loving him as a Jew like all other Jews and loving him as a convert to Judaism.

While unfortunately, there are prejudices among Jews against converts due to so called "well meaning" reasons, which may include not allowing a family member to marry a Jewish convert, perhaps if they were to be reminded that some of the greatest Jews in history were those who weren't born Jewish, including our ancestor Abraham, the first Jew, maybe some of them would think a little differently, and realize that if anything, one receives MORE eternal reward for loving a Jewish convert.

But the greatest reminder of loving a convert to Judaism should be the weekly reading of the Aramaic translation of the Torah coming from one who was born a non-Jew who climbed the ladder to become Jewish. Even though Aramaic today is not a language that we speak, it is mandated according to Jewish Law until today - see Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Chapter 285 - to learn the Parsha in this format every week (NOTE: For those who can't read Hebrew well, their mother tongue such as English, can be learned to fulfill this weekly obligation).

In fact, perhaps the weekly reading of the Chumash in the format of Shnayim Mikra V'Echad Targum is a reflection of the thrice letter Lamed, the name of which means learning/teaching. Hence, learning the verse three times - in whatever language - represents the totality of 90 - Tishim - Gematria of V'Ahavata L'Reiacha Camocha - 244th Mitzvah, refering to the Gematria of the word Gemara=244, the meat of Torah learning, from which we derive the Halacha, the basis of how a Jew is supposed to live based on the 613 Mitzvot of the Torah. For it is the Chumash, the source of the 613 Mitzvot, that has to be learned in order to understand how we derive our basis of serving Hashem, for it is this very part of the Torah that Hashem dictated to Moses to be put in writing the first 13 Sifrei Torah/Torah scrolls which he wrote on his last day on earth (it was a most miraculous feat to say the least - a total of 75,985 sentences, 1,039,688 words or 3,962,465 letters in one day!); and indeed, the number 13 is the Gematria of Ahava/love.

There are three ways for something to be accomplished - thought, speech, and action.
And so, the name of this post - Learn Torah, Love Torah, Live Torah - represent these three concepts. Though usually, the order of how something is done begins with thought, the main part of fulfilling the Mitzvah of Torah learning is done by pronouncing the words, though understand what one learns is crucial for the optimum of the Mitzvah. Also, teaching Torah to others is done through speech.

Then, there is love of the Torah, which is based on thought. Though children may be given various ways of encouragement to like learning Torah, one can learn to love Torah on a much more mature level when one learns enough of it to want it to be part of one's life, not just something that one does randomly, or after the rabbi's class, not ever opening a Torah book at home, which not only shows that one doesn't feel all that attached to Torah, but that one's children are not going to get the love of Torah if they don't see an example of it. And so, loving the Torah is not limited to Simchat Torah, the day that all Jews - at least outwardly, show their love of the Torah, but it has to be part of one's daily routine in one format or another which shows that Torah is something that is part of one's life because he indeed loves Torah, and hence loves learning it.

And this leads to LIVING the Torah - action. It should be obvious from one's actions and behavior that it is the Torah that guides such a person - not only when it comes to rituals as to how strict one may be about them, but also the way one behaves towards other Jews. It should be so obvious from his behavior that others will be able to say, "You see, this is why Torah learning is such an important thing. You see that rabbi there, how many other people do you know treat others with such love and kindness the way that this rabbi does?"

Indeed, these three verbs in English - learn, love, live - all begin with the letter l, which corresponds to the Hebrew letter Lamed. And in pronouncing the letter l in English, it sounds just like the name of Hashem: E-l, and it is this particular name of Hashem that represents the aspect of Chesed/kindness, the first of the seven active Sephirot/Divine emanations. This name E-l is also the first of the 13 Divine Attributes of Mercy, and as we had mentioned shortly earlier, the number 13 is the Gematria of Ahava/love.

And so, the THREE key ingredients of Lamed - LEARNING Torah, LOVING Jews, these two leading to LIVING the true L'Chaim - the good life of the world to come - for eternity.

8 Tevet, 5771

No comments: