In this week’s parsha we look at the value of connecting with our passions.
A learned individual was giving a sermon in the town synagogue.
Throughout his talk, as he repeatedly quoted specific pages from the Talmud from where he had derived his content, a shrewd scholar in the audience continually corrected him, noting that the speaker was actually a page off, and the like.
“Ok, one page up then,” the speaker would agree as the scholar corrected him – and thus ensued the entire lecture.
After the sermon, the speaker – upon realizing that he had in fact been accurate in his sources – turned to the listener and said, “With all due respect, I did actually have the right page…”
“Nu, one page up,” responded the scholar…
A clever story, but in fact, at the core of the scholar’s witticism lies a powerful lesson for us all.
Stop merely “learning” the Torah – the scholar was telling this individual – and start living it. You’ve got all the quotes down pat, and you know every detail on the subject – but what does it mean to you?
Indeed, the question is not if we’ve studied the books and recorded them to memory, but rather, if we have truly internalized the messages they carry.
This reminds me of a story from my yeshiva days, regarding a certain chossid who would learn the same discourse time and time again. I recall wondering: how long could it possibly take him to understand the one discourse? Was it really necessary to keep restudying the very same text? Did he simply enjoy the intellectual challenge?
My questions quickly fell away when I understood that his study went far deeper than the mind: indeed, he had found the life in that piece of Torah, he had discovered a truth that fueled his inspiration, and hence, this study would forever ignite his spirit.
Let’s find the spark in Judaism that kindles our passion so that our lives are not mundane, but meaningful. In fact, the Talmud notes that when a Jew fulfills his life mission in this world and ascends on high, the heavenly court asks him: what was your favorite mitzvah?
If you don’t have a favorite yet, go ahead and try a few until you find the one that lights your fire!