The Value of Torah Scholarship

Friday, 8 July, 2011 - 2:00 pm

Dear Friends,

The Jewish people are often referred to as “the people of the book.” This is not solely because our story is told in “the book,” but also because we have placed a very high value on the studying “the book.”

For over 3,300 years the study of Torah has been an integral aspect of Jewish identity. We have maintained academies, producing the highest levels of scholarship, even under the most difficult circumstances, in Babylonia, Eastern and Western Europe and the Middle Eastern lands. Today, when we are not being persecuted, Torah study remains a high ideal for Jewish people throughout the world.

There are many positive qualities to the study of Torah. I will give a sampling. Of course we need to learn in order to know how to live as Jews. Furthermore, Torah is called “your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the nations.” Simply put, the study of Torah sharpens the mind and increases knowledge about everything in the world. Torah scholars develop their minds giving them the ability to analyze and provide insight. It should also refine the character – making a scholar into a mensch in his interactions with others.

Kabbala teaches that when one studies Torah, which is the wisdom of G-d, the highest level of connection to G-d can be achieved. In addition, being G-d’s wisdom, Torah study gives us the ability, albeit on a micro scale, to think in G-d’s terms. When approaching a situation from the perspective of Torah one can get a sense of G-d’s take on the matter.

These and many other reasons are why Jews have always placed an emphasis on utilizing time for the study of Torah and why Torah scholars command such respect in the Jewish tradition.

While this is true of all Jews, there is one group that is unique in their relationship to Torah. They are the Yeshiva students. They can live up to the ideal of Torasam Umnasam – Torah being their sole occupation. They do not yet have the cares and responsibilities that come with a family and the need to earn a livelihood. They can, if they choose to, be completely immersed in Torah learning, which can be extremely fulfilling intellectually and spiritually. This is why over the years Yeshiva students were a treasured group to be cared for and respected, and of whom expectations of refinement and mensch-hood were very high.

This is why we are very excited about Project Talmud next month. We will have two young Torah scholars – senior Yeshiva students – visiting our community. They want to share their enthusiasm for Torah study with all of us. They wish to impart, at least for the moment, the joy of learning like only a Yeshiva student can. Yosef Rivkin and Levi Gerlitzki will be spending the week of August 14-21 in New Orleans. The will offer classes every morning after minyan at Chabad Uptown. They will offer classes every evening at Chabad Metairie before and after Minyan. They will offer more intensive Torah study sessions during the day for those off work or school. They will also be available for Lunch and Learn sessions at places of work as well individual Chavrusa sessions. We will also be scheduling some more extensive programming on the two Sundays. Please be in touch with me to learn more or to schedule a study session.

We are excited to announce that we are partnering with GCP Labs in Gulfport, MS to offer a day of Torah learning there on Wednesday, August 17, culminating with a reception and lecture that evening. If you are a Gulf-Coast resident and are interested in this project please let me know.

We look forward to an exciting week of adventures in Torah study.

Have a wonderful Shabbos
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

Comments on: The Value of Torah Scholarship

Madge wrote...

What a joy to find someone else who thikns this way.