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Delving Deeper, Torah-Instructions for living

  • Rabbi Shmuel Bloch
In his weekly different take on the Parsha, this week Parshas Yisro, Rabbi Bloch poses the question: "Imagine you have a really rich uncle..."
by RABBI SHMUEL BLOCH | Feb 04, 2015

"Imagine you have a really rich uncle..."

As you grow up, you come to the realisation that despite being famously wealthy, your uncle is kind and generous and has never turned away anybody who approached him for help. The older you get, the more you understand the outstanding reputation that your uncle has in business.  He is regarded as a genius who is fair and has uncompromising principles when it comes to being moral and ethical. You are so proud to have such a wonderful uncle in the family.

One day, your uncle approaches you and tells you to meet him at a certain place at a certain time. Your uncle explains that when both of you will meet, he will reveal something very important to you. After hearing such news, you cannot contain your excitement. This is your favourite uncle and you are his only nephew. He must have information that will be beneficial to your future.

What could it be? What does he want to tell you?

You ponder and mull over what your uncle wants to disclose to you again and again. He must want to relay something amazing and out of the ordinary. He has never done this before. One thing you are sure of - this is not going to be an ordinary meeting. Something very special is going to happen. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, the day arrives. You dress in your fanciest clothes and make sure you are on time. Suddenly your uncle walks in. He is smiling and exudes happiness and joy.

After exchanging pleasantries, your uncle starts to speak.

“My dear nephew, I am so pleased that you came here today. I know you are a wonderful person who is kind, honest and caring. I know that you are sympathetic and are gentle at all times. I also know that you have fantastic potential to become successful. Over the years, I have compiled a book detailing all of my strategies and tactics which have worked without fail. In this book lies my greatest secrets that will ensure a life of material success and spiritual contentment. I know that you are blessed with outstanding talents and have remarkable genius. Here is my book that will help you become the person you always wanted to be. Always study it and implement its wisdom all the time. I achieved great things from exploring its unmatched insights that will result in marvellous achievements and dazzling accomplishments. It is yours to keep and let it guide you in all your ways.”

You thank your uncle profusely and the two of you embrace. You cannot believe what has happened to you. You have always admired and revered your uncle. Now he has given over his cherished book to you. You stare at this book and understand that you are holding a compilation of staggering practical insights. There are no limits to the benefits you will receive by applying it in your own life. Its wisdom is so good; you will never ever lose in any way by using it in your daily routine. What a special uncle you have. He really cares so much for you!!

This story is not just an interesting tale. The parable happened in reality only once in world history. We are still feeling it’s reverberations to this day.

In this week’s Parshah, the culmination of the exodus from Egypt takes place. At Mount Sinai, the Creator of the sun, the planets, the stars and the whole universe spoke to the Jewish people. An event took place that altered the destiny of humanity and transformed it forever.

Hashem is infinitely more than our rich uncle. Hashem is all knowing and all powerful. We cannot even begin to understand how intensely Hashem loves us. At this seminal occasion, Hashem gives his most precious possession, the Torah to the Jewish people in an event that shook the world.

However to fully appreciate the enormity of this gift, we need to get clarity as to what the Torah is.

It is axiomatic that we understand that the word “Torah” is MISTRANSLATED as the “Bible” or the “Five books of Moses”. The reason that these terms are mistranslated is not because they are wrong but rather because they do not capture the Torah’s essence and purpose.

Rabbi Noah Weinberg , the founder of Aish Hatorah educational centres  and the award winning website www.aish.com, explained that the Hebrew word for Torah shares the same grammatical root another Hebrew word “Horaah”. “Horaah” means instructions. Torah understood correctly is an instruction book for living the best life possible.

When you buy a complicated piece of machinery, there are always instructions included. The instructions are not there to limit your enjoyment of the product you just bought. The exact opposite is true! Rather, instructions are provided so that you will be familiar with all the useful features that you now have access to. When you follow the instructions, you are unlimited in terms of the benefit that this machine will generate for you.

The designer of the product knows its potential and what it can achieve if utilized correctly. He relays this information to you via the instructions. He does this so that you, the purchaser will not waste time trying to figure out how everything works.

However just having access to the instructions is not enough. Only by reading, comprehending and then implementing the instructions, will you gain immensely from your purchase.

Life is infinitely more complicated that any piece of machinery. Hashem knew this when He created us. He gave us an instruction book on how to truly live the life we always wanted, a life of contentment, serenity, and full of pleasure. A life where every moment is meaningful and full of inspiration is attainable.

No person runs his business on a “pot luck” attitude. A business would not last very long if it was managed that way. If this is our approach to business, how can we live life with the attitude of “I’ll figure things out somehow, somewhere, even though I have no idea how to make that happen?”

Torah is an instruction book whose wisdom is eternal and timeless. Everything is in it. By exploring these instructions, we can live every single moment of life to the fullest.

Everybody needs to constantly probe deeper and deeper in the Torah because of its infinite depth. God Almighty wrote it after all. Each minute of life is different and requires different tools to take full advantage of it. We all need to constantly consider ourselves like a researcher, asking, examining and discussing all aspects of Torah all the time.

Everybody would love to have a rich uncle who will bestow gifts on them all the time. In reality it does not always happen. Nevertheless, we need not worry about our uncle’s finances and present giving ability. We are privileged and blessed to have a personal relationship with Hashem who can do anything and wants to give us everything.

The Jewish people are known as the “People of the Book”. Our instruction manual for life is easily accessible and simple to put into practice. Set aside a specific time each week to discover it. You will be enriched and inspired. Guaranteed. 

3 Comments

  1. 3 Choni 09 Feb
    I fully agree that the Torah is an instruction manual for every Jew to live a life according to that of God's will .
    However, I feel that any instruction manual is of little use without the 'appliance'  Since the Torah was written to practised in the Land of Israel, learning Torah outside of Israel is like following instructions without the appliance.
  2. 2 David 17 Feb
    Too true Choni -- Appliances are becoming an unnecessary burden to own with the consistent blackouts anyway.
    Better in in the land of Israel, as always 
  3. 1 DOV 19 Feb
    Hi

    I just want to clarify that when  the author says

    " Torah shares the same grammatical root WITH another Hebrew word
    “Horaah”. “Horaah” means instructions. Torah understood correctly is an
    instruction book for living the best life possible"

    The original source for this is the ZOHAR not   Rabbi Noah Weinberg

    Thanks

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