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Thursday, 13 August 2015

Do you find Torah burdensome?

Daf Yomi Nedarim 81


Micah had an idol.  This idol was very special to him, as it had been procured from his mother’s life-savings.  He set up a temple for the idol in his home and opened his doors to anyone who would pass by and desired to worship.  One day, a charming young Levite chanced across his threshold.  Micah knew that he was the one. 
‘You were chosen by Heaven to serve,’ said Micah, ‘I would like you to stay with me and I will provide your needs while you act as priest unto mine idol.’  The young man readily agreed.

How did Micah know that this lad was the one?  Our Sages explain that he was in fact the grandson of Moshe Rabbeinu.  As Heaven would have it, Moshe was denied his two dying wishes – to enter the Holy Land and that his sons fill his shoes and lead the people after his passing.  Clearly, we see that they were not worthy.  Why not?  Wouldn’t you think that the greatest teacher and prophet of Israel would raise children who would shine bright as the firmament?

Why don’t we find Torah scholars begetting children who are Torah scholars?
Ravina taught: Since they do not bless the Torah first.
Rav Yehuda quoted Rav: What is the meaning of verse in Jeremiah foretelling the destruction of the Holy Temple, “Who is the wise man who should understand this?”
The Almighty Himself explains the verse, “And G-d said for they have forsaken my Torah,” meaning that the Temple was destroyed because they did not bless the Torah first.

Why do rabbis’ kids not follow their fathers’ footsteps?  Because they are born with a spiritual silver spoon in their mouths.  The meaning of ‘not blessing the Torah first’ is that they lack the appreciation of the incredible blessing they have been born into.  Sometimes, when you’re raised in a Torah environment, you fail to understand the gift you’ve been given.  Not blessing the Torah means failing to thank G-d for your lucky genes.  And so when it comes to Torah study, these rabbis’ kids make a half-baked attempt at learning. 

The same thing occurred before the destruction of the Holy Temple.  As a people, we failed to appreciate the incredible gift we possessed.  We had a Temple, but how many people took it seriously?  How many people bothered going to Jerusalem three times a year for the pilgrimage festivals?  Why should I go when I can daven just fine at my local shul?  Our ancestors failed to appreciate all those mitzvos in the Torah that may only be performed in the Temple, such as sacrifice, libation, and the lighting of the Menorah.  ‘They didn’t bless the Torah’ means they didn’t appreciate the incredible gift they were given.

And of course you don’t need to be a rabbi’s kid to fall into this trap of lack of appreciation.  Many young people today are straying from the holy ways of their parents, because they don’t bless the Torah.  They fail to recognize the incredible gift they’ve been given by being born to dedicated Jewish parents.  If you don’t appreciate what you have and bless the Almighty for that gift, you will easily go astray. 

If you think of Torah as a burden or you are nonchalant about your Jewish heritage, why would you want to stick around doing it?  It's a magnificent gift that precious few are worthy of receiving.  You were chosen, you should be eternally grateful and never take it for granted!  And that's the message you need to impart to your children too!


It’s time to make sure your kids not only appreciate the awesome gift they’ve been given, but bless G-d for granting them that gift.  That shouldn’t take place once a year at the Seder or worse yet, once a lifetime at their bar or bat-mitzvah; it’s an appreciation that must be instilled daily.  May you merit children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who are committed to Torah, because they’ve never ceased blessing the Almighty for their marvellous spiritual fortune!