- Torah Is Your Life
- Rivka Olenick
- "For it is not an empty thing for you, for it is your life, and
through this matter shall you prolong your days on the Land to which
you cross the Jordan, to possess it." Deuteronomy 32:47
- "For it is not an empty thing for you." Your efforts to
master and obey the Torah are not empty; for it is your life;
midrashically, the Torah is not empty, and if you find it to be
unsatisfying, then the failure stems "mechem" - from you:
you are lacking, not the Torah."
- Nothing in the Torah is devoid of meaning; each and every passage if
we delve into it, will yield rewards for us."(Rashi) Rashi's
makes a strong statement when he says our efforts to "master and
obey" the Torah are not without benefit. He seems to imply that
one has to master and obey, not master or obey. Many people
obey yet never master. He says that to do this is not
"futile" that it is your existence and your purpose in life.
If a person really "delves" into the ideas this effort will
yield great rewards.
- For many people "obedience" is mastery that itself
constitutes enough of an effort since one may not necessarily desire
to master the ideas. To "master and obey" Torah is the
ideal, which unfortunately is not a priority in life for many.
However, many people put great effort into mastering the business
world and their obedience in doing so is not a problem! The pusuk
above indicates "for it is your life and through this matter
shall prolong your days on the Land". It is Torah that has the
greatest effect on a person's life. What else can have such an impact
that God promises you that it will prolong your life? The pusuk is
saying that only Torah will prolong one's life. "This
matter" is Torah itself. "It" - Torah - is your life.
"It" - Torah - is not an empty "thing" for you.
- Our entire life's purpose is tied to it and revolves around
"this matter" - Torah. This is how the Creator set it up for
us. Only a foolish person thinks that Torah is unsatisfying, as Rashi
says: "the failure stems from you, you are lacking not the
Torah." "Praiseworthy is the person who obeys your
commandments and takes to his heart Your teachings and Your
word."(The Shema) The Torah was given to us so that we would know
how to live and flourish in the world that God created for us.
According to the Rambam: "The commandments were given to us for
two reasons; for the well being of our soul and the well being of our
- "For it is not an empty thing for you" The purpose of our
existence is to acquire the depth of knowledge contained in
"it" the Torah and there is nothing contained in it that is
irrelevant. All the knowledge a person accumulates in a lifetime is
only a small portion of the Torah. When God created the world and
created man every intricate aspect of both creations were put in
place, nothing was created without purpose. And so too every single
idea in the Torah is significant, and has relevance not even one
statement in it is insignificant! "His words are living and
enduring, faithful and delightful forever to all eternity for our
forefathers and for us, for our children and for our generations, and
for all the generations of Your servant Israel's offspring." (The
Shema). His words are alive and everlasting, true and pleasant forever
and eternal from our forefathers, for us and for future generations.
These words are not dull and repetitive and the commandments and one's
obedience to them are not boring and mechanical.
- There are enough tasks in daily life that can easily become dull and
repetitive. Not so with Torah. Not so with the ideas that are always
fresh and alive, and the commandments that we can derive fulfillment
from, that bring satisfaction and peace to one's mind. As stated above
sustaining the "well being" of the soul and the body is the
purpose of the Torah. To engage one's mind in chachma and one's body
in service by fulfilling the commandments each day as if they are
brand new. Imagine! And if we should find all of this unsatisfying
then it is oneself we should examine. It is our own confused sense of
reality we should reflect upon. How are we living our life? After all,
the Creator created us for a purpose with a nature such that we could
fulfill our purpose. God gave us His Divine word perfect and absolute.
He introduced us to every possible way in which to obtain His divine
truths, through the written and oral Torah. In our tefila we ask God
for clarity of thought and for insight so that we can comprehend His
truths and live our lives in the most beneficial and optimal way that
results from this comprehension. Each one of us according to our
capability can develop a deep love for Torah thought and a more
sincere approach to the mitzvos. This is what we encourage others to
do as well, as Hillel said: "Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving
peace and pursuing peace, loving the created beings, and bringing them
near to the Torah." Pirkei Avos l:12.
- Turn off the empty brain television and the pretentious videos and
put away those hollow novels. Instead, learn and enjoy the awesome and
nourishing truths of the Torah that bring sanity and peace of mind.
These are only some of the "rewards" Rashi is talking about
and there are continuous "rewards" to come when we direct
our minds to the precious ideas contained within in our Torah.