Friday, June 6, 2008


In the minds of most people, the mention of Torah conjures up an image of an abstract and far away entity, associated with a vague and sombre reference to God, to a distant historic or mythical reality, to something daunting and obtuse. There are rabbinic references that reiterate the sacrifice connected to Torah's acquisition-It depletes our energy; it is appropriated in a state of physical frugality;-"This is the life style of Torah students: Eat a salty crust of bread, ration your drinking water, sleep on the ground, live a life of privation, exhaust yourself in Torah study."(Ethics of the Fathers,6:4)
No fun, right? Yet, I would suggest that the Psalmist, in chapter 119, understands Torah differently-"Were not Your teaching my delight, I would have perished in my affliction."(v.92)
The Hebrew word for delight is "Sha'ashua," which can be translated as "plaything." I dare not suggest that Torah be seen as a toy! But, if understood from the perspective of a child's soul, play and its toys are very serious parts of an individual's experience in growing up into a responsible adult.Psychologists remind us that play for the child is comparable to work for the adult.
Delight is not synonymous with the trivial or frivolous. Torah can be and is a source of infinite spiritual joy , rendering our lives as sources of meaning, worth and inestimable value.
As a child delights in her playthings and creates a world of meaning and purpose, so too are we summoned to engage in Torah so as to create worlds of compassion and goodness which infuse our lives with ultimate importance. Moadim Lesimchah.- May you be privileged to rejoice in the study of Torah on this Festival of Shavuot.

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