Thursday, November 5, 2009

Forget God, Just Hold on to the Torah

The Midrashic literature can provide a surprising and sometimes shocking new perspective through which to look at God and the Torah. The following is a great example:

“(God says) let it be that they leave me, but my Torah they should observe, since the light that is in it will return them to good” (Midrash Eicha).

At first glance, this is a very difficult statement. What good is observing the Torah if there is no connection to God? Isn’t the entire point to serve God through the Torah?

Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzato, the great eighteenth century thinker and Kabbalist, explains the Midrash. If a Jew is entrenched in an immoral lifestyle, yet maintained a connection to learning Torah, slowly it would start to affect his actions.

This is based on the unique nature of the Torah as the most refined manifestation of God’s presence in the world. The crass person who learns Torah cannot help but be affected by the light contained inside it, and will ultimately return to a relationship with God.

All the more so this holds true for those of us in the process of returning to God. The more we learn Torah with the awareness that we are interacting with our Creator, the more intimate the relationship becomes. This is part of the uniqueness of the mitzvah of learning Torah.

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