I recently posted this on FFOZ’s Torah Club Forum, but thought I would go ahead and post it here as well. And (as I stated in the forum) most people will already know this, but it’s a good reminder…
Yesterday was the fourth reading for this week’s parasha. It included Vayikra/Leviticus 10:16. Within this verse we have the phrase [i]S’ir hachatat darosh darash Moshe[/i], which roughly equates to “Moshe inquired insistently (or diligently) about the he-goat of the sin-offering.”
What’s special about this? First, the repetition of the root דרש. This root is where we get the word “drash” or “drosh,” meaning to “seek out,” commonly used to mean a time of teaching from what one has already sought out in the Scriptures. The doubling of this root in the passage implies a seeking out that is more intense than normal. Second, the sages tell us that these two words mark the very center of the Torah.
From both of these insights we can infer that we are to diligently seek out the heart, or the “center,” of the Torah at all times and never be satisfied with a “pat answer.” We must be as the Bereans of the Apostolic Writings at all times–diligent students, seeking out the very heart of Torah.
What is it about skipping rocks across a creek that is so therapeutic? The beginning of this week started with a much needed getaway — an overnight camping trip to northwest Arkansas with another family from our congregation. No computer. No cell phone (the battery conveniently died). The weather, although frigid at night, was perfect during the day and I could have quite happily spent the next few weeks doing nothing but hiking trails with my family and throwing rock after rock into a creek that never seemed to tire of my fruitless toil.
The trip was a renewal in many ways. However, the primary renewal came in the stillness and slowness of everything around me (except for my children, that is). It was a time of contemplation, prayer, meditation and re-evaluation. It was a time of inspiration and awe of the hand of Hashem on His creation.
I spent most of my time relishing in the stillness of the day and being inspired by the thought-provoking illustrations of The Committed Life by Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis. I’ve mentioned it before, but I can’t recommend this book enough. I had first read it a little over two years ago, and began re-reading it the last week or so. I took it with me on the trip and it served as a source of inspiration and reminder of all that Hashem wishes that we should become, and how it should affect those around us.
Being in that environment was a good reminder of Yeshua’s parable about the different types of soils (Matthew 13) and how I had somehow become the soil of the thorny ground, and that I had been allowing the “worries of life” and “the deceitfulness of making ends meet” (because it surely wasn’t wealth) choke out my zest for life. This week I have a renewed hope and vision, as well as a fresh perspective on Torah as a result of taking a moment to put a halt on the busyness of life and throw a few rocks in a creek with my children. What will it take for you?
Just a recent thought from my heart…
A few nights ago, I realized the most subtle and powerful tactic of the Yetzer Hara to keep us from the things Hashem is trying to do in our lives: Good Things. What do I mean by that? Let me explain…
As my wife and I were just getting into bed for the night, she said that she had a restless feeling, and really felt a need to pray. She shared a little bit about that with me, and then after a few minutes of discussing what she felt, she reached over and grabbed her book on modesty with the intent of studying. This in and of itself is a wonderful thing. The book she is studying (Modesty, An Adornment for Life) is a wonderful work based on insights into the Scriptures in regard to modest dress and behavior. However, studying was not the most important thing at the time. Hashem had beckoned to her to speak to Him. She had gotten distracted. The very thing that was good, had been substituted for what was best. I gently put my hand on her and said, “Sweetheart, I know that’s a wonderful thing, but that’s not what you are supposed to be doing right now. You are supposed to be praying.” She immediately acknowledged the rightness of this statement, smiled, put her book away and got up to pray.
This battle was won. But how many in our day to day existences are lost? I’m not saying prayer is always better than study. I’m saying that if Hashem has a specific mission for us at any time day and night, and we substitute it for “the next best thing” we have missed out. It could be praying rather than giving tzeddikah, or giving of our time to a person in need while our children are left needing. The tool of the Adversary is deception, and the best form of deception is when it’s 99% truth mixed with 1% lies. Our enemy doesn’t attempt to deceive us with blatant wickedness, but with compromise and self-justification.
I was talking with a dear friend just this morning. He’s come to me over the last few months for advise and help getting his spiritual bearings back after being knocked around like a rag doll at sea for the past few years. After much discussion, it was concluded that this was his case. He had settled for the good, but not Hashem’s best time after time. After many years of this compromising, it has lead him to a point where he doesn’t have his own convictions or values. His convictions have been determined by his circumstances, rather than the revelation of Hashem and His Torah. He is having to start at the very beginning and re-shape his core understanding and ask big questions, like “Who is Hashem?” and “What is our responsibility to Him?” This is a scary place to be. My friend has made the bold confession that he is at this point. However, many of us are already there, yet don’t even know it. Are you? Am I? We must shake ourselves and awake from our slumber in order to impact a generation of hopelessness and despair. We must quit settling for the deception of good in order to obtain the best.
Rise up O Generation of slumbering spiritual giants! Rise up for the Kingship of Hashem!