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Friday, 8 May 2015

In Service to the Torah

Daf Yomi Kesubos 96
Tony Robbins is the world’s most famous motivational speaker.  He holds seminars that are twelve-hour nonstop words of encouragement and motivation, culminating in a walk over hot coals!  A friend of mine tells me about his experience at a Tony Robbins seminar.  He was impressed by the number of volunteers.  Chatting with some of them, he realized that they were so enamoured by Tony and wanted so much to learn from him that they were willing to do anything to serve and be in his inner circle.

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi taught: All duties that a servant performs for his master, a disciple should perform for his teacher, except for untying his shoes.
Rabbi Chiya bar Aba quoted Rabbi Yochanan: If a teacher prevents his disciple from serving him, it is akin to withholding kindness from him.
Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak says: Indeed he is removing the awe of Heaven from him.  

The more one serves another person, the greater the bond that develops.  When you serve your spouse, you develop a stronger attachment to them.   When you serve your community, you become an integral part of the community.  When you serve your children – even non-biological children – you grow indescribably attached to them.

And so it is with our Torah teachers, our link to Sinai.  The more dedicated your service, the greater your connection to our chain of tradition.  The more you do for your teacher, the more you become part of their inner circle and gain from their direct wisdom. 

It’s not a matter of the Rabbis lording it over their students – Rabbi Yochanan makes it very clear that they should not prevent their disciples’ service.  It’s about the disciples investing in their spirituality and learning to infuse even the most mundane, menial tasks with sanctity.  To deny them that opportunity is to deny them the ability to learn awe and reverence of Heaven, says Rav Nachman.  If you don’t know how to revere the conveyors of G-d’s message, how will you ever learn how to revere G-d?

Ultimately, of course, that’s why the Almighty gave us so many mitzvos – each mitzvah is an opportunity to serve Him and deepen our relationship and emotional attachment to Him.  Mitzvos are not a burden; they’re an opportunity that Heaven has bestowed upon us, a gift from Above!

Service of Torah scholars is your ticket into the inner sanctum.  And learning from them directly ensures that you will become an unbreakable link in the chain of tradition.  May you merit becoming a servant of the Divine!