Parshat Bamidbar 5761
I've learned a few things about
myself in 38 years of existence--not as many as I should have, I'm sure, but
a few nonetheless.
Let's say it like it is. We all tend to put things off --and far more important things than washing dishes-- for "later," even though our conscience (or wife) tells us it's no certainty we'll get around to it later. We all will take care of what we really need to take care of… someday. But, as a great song by a great band of thirty years ago tells us, the problem is: Someday never comes.
If it's true for dishes, it's also true for Torah. The Sages understood it clearly. Hear the words of Maimonidies on the subject (Mishneh Torah: Laws of Torah Study 3, 7)
Don't say, "Someday I'll get to that Torah study I've been thinking about."
As our Sages tell us, you may never have the leisure…or, if you do, you may be too old, tired or sick (or the unwitting victim of a thousand other distractions), G-d forbid, to make much sense of it. Don't say, "Someday I'll start attending that Torah class." If the warning of the Torah itself is not enough, give heed to our rock-and-roll classic: Someday never comes! The time to study, and the time to act, is NOW.
These reflections are appropriate as we head into the Shabbos directly preceding the holiday of Shavuos. For Shavuous commemorates our receiving of the Torah, the study and observance of which is (according to our tradition) the greatest obligation devolving on us as husbands, wives, Jews and human beings. Consider for a moment. All Creation was brought into being only for the sake of the Torah (see Rashi on Genesis: 1, 1 and 1, 31), and continues to exist each day (and each second) only through its study and practice, our Sages tell us. Torah study helps the whole world--and not just dolphins or whales, but everything there is. As Rabbbi Moshe Chayim Luzzatto, zt'l, writes in his classic, Derech Hashem [The Way of G-d]: "There is no element in all creation that is not rectified through the Torah. Furthermore, each element of the Torah has the ability to perfect some part of creation." (IV, 2, 4; Feldheim edition) It gives us spiritual vitality in this world and the next, as movingly expressed in the words of our Ma'ariv (evening) prayer: "With an eternal love You loved the House of Israel, Your people. Torah and commandments, statutes and laws, You taught us. Therefore…we will discuss Your statutes and rejoice in the words of Your Torah and in Your commandments forever. For they are our life and the length of our days…" (my emphasis)
Given how great is the gift of the Torah to every single Jew (each at his or her own level of observance; each with a unique mind, heart and soul that can find appropriate delight and instruction therein), it is worthwhile to spend a moment before Shavuos considering one's orientation to it. Are any of us doing all that we can in terms of study and practice? Forgive my presumptuousness, but I answer (including myself): OF COURSE NOT. There is room for improvement. And Shavuous is an ideal time to figure out where to make that improvement.
I think it is relatively easy to get psyched up to attend a class on this holiday [I urge everybody to check out the extensive offerings by the Savannah Kollel, and participate], or even to stay up all night studying--as is the age-old custom on the first night of the festival. [Hope to see you this Sunday night in the B.B. Chapel!] But the mark, in my mind, of a successful Shavuos is what we do after the Yom Tov is over. The proof is not in the pudding…or, more appropriately, in the cheesecake…but in the days and nights ahead, when I hope we will take the great inspiration Shavuos offers and translate it into a deeper connection to our Torah. May we all have a wonderful Shabbos and Yom Tov.
And remember: whether it's dishes [I'm gonna improve, Mrs. Edelstein, I promise!] or Torah study, "SOMEDAY NEVER COMES."
Rabbi Yosef Edelstein, Savannah Kollel. Phone: 355-0157; fax: 354-9923; e-mail address: Yosef18@aol.com
Produced and distributed by the Ben Portman Computer facilities of the Savannah Kollel.
This Dvar Torah page created and hosted courtesy of OU.ORG. No responsibility for its contents may be implied or taken by the OU.