Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Practice, Practice, Practice

In high school I was in the drum line in the marching band. Our director Mr. Maxwell was always very strict during our after-school practices. “Do it again,” he would say, despite the thick humidity of the South Florida afternoon. “How you practice is how you perform.”

In the Book of Devarim, the Torah calls itself a “consuming fire.” Why would it use such a destructive symbol? I heard from Rabbi Natan Lopes Cardozo in the name of the Katav ve'Hakabbalah that even though Israel received the revelation at Mt. Sinai as a nation, each and every person experienced that revelation in a completely unique fashion.

What enabled one to have a deeper sense of revelation than the next? It was preparation. The idea is to make ourselves combustible, to ready ourselves for the fire, here symbolized as the Torah. The key to spiritual experience (or achieving any goal) is preparation.

The 49 days from Passover to Shavuot was that time of preparation for the Israelites in the desert. For us, leading up to Shavuot is a time to work on our character traits and try to shed bad habits. In this way we become more combustible to the holy fire of Torah, and can become a vehicle for its light.


  1. Yasher koyach for starting the discussion. The local Chabad band here plays a great version of B Joel's "We didn't start the fire, it was always burnin...." My sense, knowing none of the mfarshim on that pasuk, is that the Torah's consuming fire refers to annhiliation of ego, or the burning (or pruning) of that which is superfluous in our life. Fire can also allow stiff things to bend and become moldable. And it can destroy. Without help, the Torah's fire can burn, wound and even scar a person or family. Just read the tochacha (rebukes).

  2. I like this first ember from the fire. Your blog seems to be user friendly with good links & a very thoughtful beginning. I'll look forward to following it. -Charlotte, Orlando, FL

  3. Beautiful. Keep up the posting!

  4. I enjoyed the imagery. Congratulations, Yonatan, on your new blog!