May 16, 2024
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May 16, 2024
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Receiving Our Priceless Gift of Torah Daily Through Study

One of the young men from our yeshiva’s Young Professionals’ Initiative just went to Eretz Yisrael to learn in yeshiva. He had been working for a few years since high school and learning after work, but he decided to invest some time to engage in full-time Torah study.

Another one of our young professionals told me that he gives Rabbi Benjamin Yudin from Fair Lawn the credit for his journey into Torah. A few years ago, he shared with Rabbi Yudin that he was going for a short trip to Eretz Yisrael, so Rabbi Yudin sat with him for hours late into the night, convincing him to spend two days of his visit learning at Aish HaTorah. Those two days… turned into close to two years!

In a similar story, my good friend Rabbi Dave Sorani met a group of Jewish teens at an ice cream store and they struck up a conversation. They had just graduated from high school. Many of them said they were enrolled in college for the coming year. A couple of them said they were going to yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael. One of them said he would like to go to yeshiva for a year, but his father wouldn’t allow it. Unabashed, Rabbi Dave said, “Let me speak to your father.” Rabbi Dave called the father the next day and convinced him to meet. They spoke for a few hours and in the end the father agreed to let his son go. Rabbi Dave called the young man, who could not stop thanking him, saying, “I feel like I’ve received the greatest gift in the world!”

Parshas Emor lists the Yomim Tovim (holidays). When discussing the Yom Tov of Shavuos, the parsha doesn’t mention anything about receiving the Torah. All it mentions is that one should bring a minchah chadashah, a new gift offering, to Hashem. Why doesn’t the Torah mention that Shavuos commemorates receiving the Torah? The Kli Yakar explains that this teaches us that receiving the Torah doesn’t just apply to the actual day we first received it, but rather every day we learn Torah we should feel like we received a new gift of Torah that day.

Rav Meir Simcha of Dvinsk gives an incredible insight into preparing for Shavuos. The first Yom Tov listed in the parsha is Shabbos, signaling that Shabbos shares certain properties with Yom Tov. But there are differences between Shabbos and Yom Tov. Shabbos is a set day each week, while Yom Tov is dependent on the day of the Jewish month, which is determined by the Jewish court when they declare the new month. Another difference is that Shabbos is a day spent primarily with one’s family, while Yom Tov is a day when we are more likely to connect additionally with others outside our family. Since the Torah permits cooking on Yom Tov, this makes it easier to invite and host others.

The Torah refers to Pesach as Shabbos because both Shabbos and Pesach are a time for getting together with family. Pesach leads us up to the Yom Tov of Shavuos by counting the Omer, signaling that this is a time to transition from thinking solely about ourselves and family to thinking about others, sharing both food and Torah with them.

The Omer period has many practices of mourning to commemorate the passing of the 24,000 talmidim, students, of Rabbi Akiva. The Gemara says that Rabbi Akiva had 12,000 pairs of chavrusos, study partners, as students, and they all perished during this time period. They were punished because they did not accord proper respect to one another, i.e., each other’s Torah. The emphasis that they were chavrusos is an indication of why they perished; they lacked the proper respect for the Torah insights that their study partners asserted. They were more focused on their own Torah learning and not properly attuned to their partner’s views.

The experience of Rabbi Akiva’s students is a key message of Shavuos. We need to keep in mind daily that the greatest gift we can give someone is to help them connect to Torah—to bring them to the “mountain” to receive the Torah. We also should help people who are already studying Torah to feel the uniqueness and opportunity of each day they learn Torah. Through this study, they are receiving a new gift of Torah each day!

For some, assisting others with their Torah learning takes the form of convincing them to go to a yeshiva. For others, it’s just sharing an encouraging word to someone who is studying Torah or helping him understand a difficult Torah passage. Every day, we can connect with others to help them appreciate the greatest benefit man has ever received. If you already know Torah, you can share that benefit with others. Consider which of your family, friends and neighbors you can benefit by encouraging Torah study. You will be giving them the greatest gift!


Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is the Associate Rosh Yeshiva of Passaic Torah Institute (PTI)/Yeshiva Ner Boruch. Rabbi Bodenheim can be reached at [email protected]. For more info about PTI and its Torah classes, visit www.pti.shulcloud.com

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