© 2019 Drew T. Noll

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Torah Li’Shma


When I was young, I learned about G*D and the meaning of life from the, translated to English by who knows who, Christian Bible, I learned about G*D from my Dad, who had a unique and individual perspective, and I also learned from various books that I read on the subject. I explored Eastern philosophies such as Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Hinduism, Hawaiian cultural perspectives, and ancient African and American Indian animistic beliefs. I even learned a little about Islam’s Pillars of Faith and its history. In the end I decided to look to a faith that, after more than 3,800 years, still exists today, and has become the root religion of about 2/3’s of today’s (secular and religious alike) World population. This faith has existed continuously in the World since a guy born in the cradle of civilization, named Avram, began to tell the World about G*D in the year 1,800 BCE. This was 300 years before the beginning of Hinduism, which is generally accepted, however inaccurately, as being the oldest active system of belief on the planet. I was looking for the source, for the meaning of life, and I had no idea that it would take me more then half of my life before I would finally start to understand how to approach tapping into that source.

Avram was teaching to the World that G*D was One. He was teaching the World that G*D was everything and Avram was doing it after understanding the whole of Torah about 400 years before it was even given on Mount Sinai to Moshe and the Israelites. Later Avram’s name was changed to Avraham and even later still, in the English language, he became known as Abraham and his children went on to become conceptual and ethical fathers to 2/3’s of the World’s population. How is it possible, you ask, to teach something that was not given yet? The answer is in the message, not merely the text itself.

Shavuot is around the corner and we will be celebrating the giving of the Torah to Moshe by staying up all night to learn. This is to try to make up for sleeping in when Moshe brought the Torah down after receiving it from G*D. We try to merit having the Torah by showing our enthusiasm... this time. What’s more, when Moshe came down from Har Sinai the first time around, we were dancing around the golden calf and instead of quickly gathering our stuff and heading for the Promised-Land; we got waylaid with spies and 40 years of wandering around the desert.

What if we hadn’t blown it with the golden calf? What if we journeyed right into the Holy Land and set up shop, Holy Temple and all? Would we then just have 2 or 3 Devine Books from G*D instead of 5, or would we have the Book of Joshua starting the last half of the Chumash (5 Books of Moses). Since the Chumash is a manual that gives us all the rules we need in order to live properly, we would need to have the other half of the Chumash in order to understand all the rules (not that we all understand them now or anything). G*D would have had to give us the rest of the rules in the Book of Joshua and so on. This idea illustrates that the text itself is not as important as the ideas that the text contains.

Torah Li’Shma is to learn Torah with so much desire to be close to G*D that nothing else matters. Every other thing in the Universe is contained within that Love of G*D and Torah. The rules, the codes, the simple, and the complex readings, all fall into one category: Love G*D with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your might! Really, since G*D is everything, you are really loving yourself anyway...

I will just leave you with this little parable by the Baal Shem Tov;

A King wanted to indulge his son with the royal pleasures of the palace and all that’s involved in his regal stately world. True to human nature however the prince became spoiled with all of this overabundance. The king’s only option was to send the prince far away from the palace both in terms of distance and in terms of lifestyle. With the passage of time, the prince became thoroughly convinced that his lowly friends, cheap food, disgusting habits, miserable values, aspirations, and outlook, were all the best that life had to offer. He severed and forgot his royal roots thoroughly. The desperate king searched fruitlessly for someone to help him bring the prince back to his senses. Finally a wise man offered his services. After earning the total confidence of the fallen prince by establishing a mutual friendship based on unconditional love and acceptance, the wise man began a dialogue with the prince about the pleasures and values of life. Of course the sage expertly spoke the prince’s lowly language based on the lowly perspective of the prince. Sure enough with patience and gentle guidance the prince was eventually persuaded to wholeheartedly rejoin his jubilant father.

Chag sumeach le kulam!

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