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Synthesis in Judaism

Friday, 9 June, 2017 - 9:41 am

Last Sunday our daughter Basy graduated from Torah Academy. At a meaningful ceremony, surrounded by family and friends, she and her fellow 8th graders received their diplomas decked out in caps and gowns. Congratulations to them and to the younger graduates of the Early Childhood Program. I would like to share with you a synopsis of the speech she delivered.  


This week’s Torah portion contains the passage, “So it was, whenever the ark set out, Moshe would say, “Arise, Hashem, may Your enemies be scattered...” In the Torah scroll, this passage is bracketed by two inverted nuns. The Talmud teaches, that this passage is actually its own book of the Torah. So, if you would count the books in this manner, there would be seven books; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers until this passage, the passage itself, from this passage until the end of Numbers, and Deuteronomy.


In the beginning of the Parsha, the golden menorah is referenced. The menorah has seven branches, but the entire menorah must be molded from a single piece of gold. This teaches us that while there can be different paths to serve Hashem - represented by the seven branches - they must all come from the same source, symbolized by the one piece of gold.

What is the connection between the seven books and the seven branches? Some people assume that there are “significant” verses of Torah, like the above mentioned passage or “I am the L-rd your G-d,” and there are “insignificant” passages of Torah, such as the family tree of Esav. However, just as the menorah, with its diverse branches, is formed from a solid piece of gold, so too, all the verses in the Torah are equal in significance. They are all part of the same Torah, Hashem’s Torah. It is all the infinite wisdom of Hashem.

This lesson must spill over into our lives as well. Often we compartmentalize by separating “Jewish aspects of life” from the “regular” part of life. In reality, however, everything in our lives is connected to Hashem! There is nothing in the life of a Jew that is devoid of Judaism.

This lesson is particularly evident at Torah academy, which isn’t just an academy where Torah is taught, it is a school where everything is permeated with Torah ideology. Some schools use terms like Judaic and secular. In Torah Academy, we don’t refer to secular studies, as secular can mean disconnected from G-dliness. Rather, we have general studies, which we learn on a high level. When learning Torah, we discover math, science and other interesting general ideas. When learning math, history, language arts or science, we discover connections to Torah and lessons that enhance our service of Hashem.  

Our mission is to reveal that the world has been G-dly all along, and that the mundane was never truly separate from Hashem. This will be fully realized with the coming of Moshiach, may it be speedily in our days.

I would like to welcome Rabbi Zalman and Libby Groner, newest Shluchim to Louisiana, who will be working on youth programming under the auspices of Chabad of Metairie. We wish them much success!

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin


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