Dovidl Wide

Walking with Torah

May 6, 2010

Parshat Bechukotai opens with the pasuk: "im bechukotai telechu ve-et mitzvotai tishemru" "If you will follow My decrees and observe My commandments and perform them" (Vayikra 26:3).  Rashi comments: "'if you will follow My decrees' - shetihiyu ameilim baTorah - that you should be laboring in the Torah".  Much has been said and written with regard to these words of Rashi.  How does Rashi know that "if you will follow My decrees" refers to Torah study, and furthermore what is his source that the Torah study referred to here refers to ameilut - toiling. 

Extensive and fascinating insights have been offered by the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh, by the Kli Yakar, and countless others.  I would like to add just one more small thought.    

Perhaps Rashi notes the unusal use of the verb telechu which in context means "to follow" but literally means to walk.  This verb appears incongruous with mitzvah performance, especially chukim. The verbs asiyah - to do, or perhaps shmira - to safeguard, are more commonly used with regard to mitzvah observance.  The verb halicha - to walk, generally has the connotation of movement, growth, and purposeful goals that are not generally associated with the performance of a singular act of a chok such as refraining from wearing kilayim or the sprinkling of the parah adumah. 

Anyone who has ever been in a Yeshiva is well aware that real growth, in a Jewish sense, results from a person's deep involvement in the study of Torah.  It is the delving into and the struggling with the words of HaKadosh Baruch Hu and of Chazal that lead a person down a path of self-awareness and spiritual growth. 

When we study Torah, more specifically when we are ameilim - toiling - in Torah we can actually feel as if we are walking along a path that is going to enlighten our life and bring us to a closer relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu. 

The first words Hashem spoke to Avraham Avinu, the first Jew, were lech lecha - literally - "go for yourself".  The Torah describes the last day of Moshe Rabenu's life in terms of "vayelech Moshe", even though we have no evidence that he was walking anywhere.  The essence of a Jew's life is to walk, to move, to grow. 

As HaRav Bina Shlit"a always says: "in Judaism you are either going up or going down".  Being a Jew means to resist the temptation to stagnate - from the very beginning of one's journey in life, until his very last day.  His journey is fueled by ameilut baTorah, and this is what will carry us to our final destination.

Venue: Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh


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