“Regular daily Torah study is crucial to life itself. It influences not only the soul of the one who studies, but the souls of his family as well, for it permeates the atmosphere of his home with a spirit of Torah and piety.”
– The Lubavitcher RebbeI love to learn. I love to explore and dig and gather. The fear, of course, is that I have yet another pile of information that sits on the floor, instead of being used practically or put into action. I am a pile guy, so I need to be aware of this.
Learning is great, but it needs to go beyond a page or podcast, and become action. Lessons are best learned viscerally, physically, mentally. At least for me, I learn best when I can really see something… touch it… feel it. So what about Torah?
There are multiple ways to learn Torah. One is to sit alone in a room and read. Another is to join a group, so you have people to bounce ideas off of and clarify, and hopefully you have a leader… a Rabbi or Tzadik… who can guide and impart their knowledge and understanding. Thanks to technology, there is another way… and thanks to Chabad.org and in honor of the 3rd Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Joshua B. Gordon ob’m (Legendary and founding Shliach of Chabad of the Valley) there is a series of videos on Tanya, Chumash and Rambam.
While it is in the middle of most of the lessons, I am trying to start from the beginning and then do the one for the day… to stay in synch. As Rabbi Gordon says, the main lesson of Tanya, is to maximize our potential. And like any good lesson and learning, especially the ones we realize will be lifelong, the idea is to take the long-short way.
How many times have we chosen a short cut, which gets us lost and winds up being a much longer path? The point is that in some things, there is no shortcut… nor should there be… and the only thing that it does is cut ourselves short of the benefits and valuable lessons, and amazing things we might see along the road on the “longer” journey.
Here is my own quote for the day on what it means to study Torah:
“Torah is life, and therefore it needs to be studied for the duration of our lives. With each day we live, Torah gives us food and sustenance, a breath of air and the water we need to quench our thirst, to survive and thrive. Torah is a daily affirmation and meditation. It is mindfulness, peace and love. It is wisdom and kindness. It is a new lesson, new insight, and a blueprint and guide as to how to live a happy, fulfilled and full life. It shapes and defines us. It is who we are.”While I am someone who wants the answers quickly, Torah is teaching me patience, humility and gratitude… to accept the unknown and embrace it, because I have faith in Hashem and know that Hashem has faith in me. The long shorter way is not easy for someone who sneaks a look at a sports score on his phone, in order to decide if they are going to watch the game they recorded when they get home. I should embrace the surprise, even when it is delayed.
When you take the long way to something, there is, perhaps, a greater chance for obstacles, rocks, stones and boulders to fall on the path… for floods rain and for roads to be washed out…
But there is also the potential for greater joy… to see more miracles… to stop and take in what is around you at any given moment. Taking a shortcut too often leads to misunderstanding and missing the things that would have built up a secure base of knowledge.
For me, Judaism itself is the long haul, the long road, the path. I just need to settle in, breathe, and make sure I have a nice lunch packed, and a cool bottle of water… Of course, Torah will provide me with all this, as well. So here’s to the journey… and to our blueprint and map. I look forward to seeing you on the path! Go long!!!