Hebraic Studies - Why Should I Learn Torah?
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The question frequently asked of me is as follows; Why should I learn the Torah, and what benefit will I receive from learning it. It really amazes me that a Jew asks me this, for is it not the most important thing we should know as part of our faith.
In Judaism the very heart is the wonderful mitzvah of being able to the study of our beloved Torah, for obviously it is more than just the Law, for it also contains so much detail of our very beginning, when G-d gave the land to Avram
And said to Avram, after Lot had separated from him: Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are, northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land that you see I give to you and your descendants forever. Bereshis - Genesis 13:14-15.
And of course as we continue we will also read
about the miraculous Exodus from Mitzraim (
The truth is we should have a better understanding of the teachings that are so vital of our Hebraic faith. This philosophy must bring to light the ultimate good that man is able to attain from the adherence from living a way of life based on what we are taught in the wonderful Torah.
Here we see a part of an open Torah Scroll
editions containing the Five Books of Moshe -
Hebrew and English are available from any Jewish Bookstore by various publishers
Judaism is not just a religion, and by religion I do mean doing those things that we as humans normally tend to satisfy the normal instinct in us. Obviously, many forms of this satisfaction are prohibited in the Torah, and may even be deemed to be evil. Judaism considers its greatest adversary the unbridled religious emotion of man. This sadly can reach in the ultimate manifestation of idolatry. Judaism is a unique metaphysical and philosophical system. Its insistence on knowledge as the only means of determining its practice and the worship of our blessed Creator and this distinguishes us from all other religions. Judaism demands of man a certain level of knowledge and understanding their faith and those things that G-d has taught us so long ago!
Remember studying in English or whatever your language is will be just fine
But do try to learn Hebrew whenever it becomes possible!
Obviously falsehood is equated with evil,
whilst truth and living a good life, combined with knowledge and
understanding of the Torah makes us a better and a faithful
person. And friends, it is precisely for this reason that we were
given the Torah.
Judaism is the only faith that views knowledge as being indispensable for its practice and maintains that man finds his deepest fulfilment in knowledge.
Say unto wisdom
thou art my sister and to understanding shalt thou call a close
Countless passages of the Torah and the prophets attest to this fact. For this reason the Jews were not supposed to believe in the Torah without witnessing the event at Sinai. Two passages of the Torah make this point exceedingly clear:
Behold I will reveal myself to you in the thickness of the cloud in order that the nation shall hear when I speak with you and also in you will they believe forever. Shemot - Exodus 19:9.
The day that you stood before your G-d in Horeb when said to me Gather for Me the nation and I will let them hear My words in order that they shall learn to fear Me all the days that they live on the land, and that they may teach their children. Davarim - Deuteronomy 4:10.
As we well know there were many of the Israelites that lacked in religiosity and even abandoned the beneficial and knowledgeable ways of the Torah for a life of sheer nonsense, folly and sadly even idolatry. They were often rebuked for their misguided religiosity as in Yeshayahu - Isaiah 1:11-15 and 48:1-6.
We must understand that falsehood is the enemy of the Torah, thus always remember that knowledge and understanding our beloved Torah is our stronghold.
is the true G-d; He is the living G-d and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth will tremble, and the nations will not be able to endure His indignation. Thus you shall say to them: The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens. Yirmyahu - Jeremiah 10:10-11.
The true religion can only find support from
all sources of knowledge as all knowledge has as its source one
Creator. What Judaism does scorn is pseudo-intellectualism, rash
decisions stemming not from man's "
There is one portion of the Torah that is singled out from all others in terms of religious significance, the Shema (Davarim - Deuteronomy 6:4). We are required to recite it twice daily. We are further required to bind this portion to our arms and to our heads (men laying Tefillin) and to place Mezuzahs on our doorposts. It is obvious, therefore, that of all the portions of the Torah, this one is considered to contain the most crucial and fundamental message.
The first statement, (and when we say it we
will say it like this) Hear O
However the Shema as written in the Torah continues like this;
You shall love your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. Davarim - Deuteronomy 6:5-8.
The third statement, And these
words further encourages us to study the Torah. Rashi tells
us that this third statement teaches us how to accomplish the
injunction contained in the previous statement. He said,
And what is this love? Because through this, the study of
Torah, one will come to recognize the Holy One blessed be He, and
you will cling to His ways. Rashi's source is the Sifri.
This is the love that is obligatory upon us. The words of the Sifri in this matter are, It says and you shall love your G-d', but I do not know how one loves G-d. The Torah therefore tells us, these words which I command you shall be upon your heart. This refers to the study of Torah, because through it you recognize the One who spoke and caused the universe to come into existence. The commandment to love G-d present a serious problem, we may ask, How can one love G-d? There are those who cannot take the commandment at face value and we may ask why not? The answer may be rooted in Judaisms idea of G-d.
The G-d of
To whom can you liken Me that I may be compared, saith the Holy One. Yeshayahu - Isaiah 40:25.
His essence is removed from any created
existences that man is able to know. How then can we direct the
emotion of love to an unknowable entity? Love requires an object.
Thus the very commandment to love our Creator can be a monumental
dilemma. The Sifri explained that the Torah anticipated this
question and that it did give us a solution. It is true that we
cannot apply love to G-d as one would to an ordinary person we
know. There is, however, a path we may take in order to fulfil
this commandment. When we study G-ds Torah and when we
contemplate His works we become filled with ecstasy over His
great love for His people Israel and his immense wisdom.
Therefore as we studied and read the Torah and discovered all
that our G-d has done, we will have come to realise how great He
is and all that He had done for us, and you will then attain the
delight and enjoyment and then the love for our G-d will
obviously follow for He has obviously loved us! This concept of
the love of G-d is unique. It is not like the love of an object
as G-d is not an object that is apprehended by the mind. It is
only similar to love in the sense that one is drawn towards G-d,
for I know, I long for Him, and desires to approach Him. This
desire can only be attained through the study and appreciation
and delight in partaking of His infinite knowledge. If one
does not study Torah, if one does not take delight and marvel at
the beauty of G-d's wisdom, one cannot be overcome with the
longing to reach forth towards the source of all wisdom and
knowledge, the Creator of everything that exists. It is for this
Obviously, we cannot will ourselves to love G-d
it all comes together with the performance of the mitzvah, and
the fulfilment of a mitzvah which are two separate entities. The
performance is the study, the analysis, the understanding of
G-ds laws. The fulfilment is found in the enjoyment and
delight one experiences while learning, which causes one to turn
towards G-d, to long for Him. I am reminded by the words of
My soul thirsts for the Almighty the living G-d. Tehillim - Psalms 42:3.
Why should one study Torah? Because it is only through Torah that one can fulfil the one commandment and that is the end goal of the entire Torah, the love of our G-d.
You shall love your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Davarim - Deuteronomy 6:5.
I trust we will now understand the reason why it is so important to study the Torah? As we have learned, it is because studying the Torah will brings us close to the source of all reality, the Creator of the Universe, that is the heaven and the earth and everything that is therein.
So, why study Torah? Because through the study
of Torah we will attain the highest possible state of human
existence, the very purpose for which we were created. It is for
this reason we were endowed with the
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