Friday, May 3, 2013

Pizza Or Donuts?

Believe it or not, some people really do seem to have perfect lives. 

I know families who have multiple BMW's and go on yearly cruises, they have beautiful, smart, healthy children, they have respectable careers, they give of themselves to the community, they're admired and held in high public esteem, have harmony in the home...I mean, can anything get better?

And yet, many of these blessed people seem to feel as if their lives are just chocolate glazed donuts. 
Their lives are full and rich and shiny and pleasurable.... but there's a hole in the middle. 
Something's missing. 
 There's a level of real happiness and contentment that's just not there.


The parsha this week speaks about reward and punishment in regard to the mitzvos.
 Im bechukotai teleichu...if you go in the way of my 'chukim'...then the Torah goes on to list a whole bunch of brachos that'll come your way. 
But, im bechukotai tima'asu...if you despise my 'chukim'...then the Torah presents a whole group of klalot- curses to send upon the person.


I have 2 questions on this:

1. Why does the possuk use the word teleichu, which means to 'walk' with the mitzvos instead of the word tishmoru, to 'keep' the mitzvos?

2. What exactly are the chukim?


So, Rashi answers the second question. 
He says shet'hiyu ameilim baTorah... put effort into learning Torah.

Ok. So instead of solving this problem, I think it just expanded. Rashi seems to be indicating that learning Torah is a chok.

What's a chok? It's a law in which the human mind can't visualize the cause, explanation, or justification for it.

So, how can learning Torah be a chok? 
It would appear to be a mishpat, since we do know why we learn it. We study Torah so that we can fulfill its laws and follow its commandments.

Like getting behind the wheel of a car, in order to maneuver it successfully and safely, one must first learn how to drive.
Unless you live in Mexico, then you just pay 50 bucks and you get yourself a license, plus a safe house to run to if you kill someone.

So, it can´t be a chok, because how are we supposed to keep the mitzvos without first learning what they are and how to keep them?


Here's the amazing chidush. The learning itself is not a chok. The studying of the Torah has an apparent reason. 
It's the ameilut, the toiling in Torah that we don't understand. 
The constant delving into deeper depths, the round the clock shuckeling, the never ending  thumb swaying... that's what we don't understand. 

How can an intelligent and ambitious man spend fifty or seventy years of his life sitting on a bench, that really should have been a swing, reading, learning, and shaking, and actually feel fulfilled?

It's because he understands the beauty of Torah, and he appreciates its worth. 
If someone entered your office five minutes before closing time and offered you $1,000,000 for staying five hours overtime, will you think twice about staying? Will you even think once?
If you need to contemplate that offer, I need to do a background check on your Jewish roots. 

Obviously you'll put in the extra time, since you understand and appreciate the value of the dollar.

So, the learning of the Torah is a mishpat, but all the extra toil is a chok since we can't humanly comprehend why someone will stay awake til the two am learning, only to awaken again at four to resume. 

If I switch the soul searching with sole searching, now that´s a concept I understand and appreciate. Yes, I will sleep two hour nights if that´s the requirement for acquiring my dream shoes.

But the self induced insomniac who spends the wee hours shuckling, does so because of his deep appreciation and love of Torah. 
That extra exertion creates within him the highest possible level of true, inner happiness.


Now the other issue we had. The walking thing. 
This is the act, other than breathing, that comes most naturally to a person. 
I don't have to think 'right, left, right, left...' as I walk, unless I´m at my graduation. 
I just walk. 
We all just walk. 
It is recommended to watch where you´re going, tho, or you might end up in places...or in things you don't want to be in :puke! puke.

To walk is literally, a way of life, since it's one's most natural action.

  The Torah is not supposed to be something we just keep or do or study. It is meant to become a way of life. 
Just like I walk without thinking since it's a part of me, I need to do the mitzvos like they're a part of me. They need to become a part of me. They need to become my natural insticts.

Returning to the perfect people we spoke about above whose donuts have holes, I have an idea for them.
Let's fill up the holes! 
Listen to the recipe:
There are some donuts that come completed, with, say jelly. Y´know which those are. The ones that make a snowstorm on your clothes, and you don´t quite know where to put your nose while you take a bite.

 So, there are 2 types of Jews in the world. There's a Jelly Donut Jew and a Pizza Pie Jew. 
Which group are you a member of?

When you have a pie of pizza with eight people waiting to dig in, you slice up the pie into eight, pull out each sizzling slice, and every person receives their own piece. 

Now, on the other side of the room we have a jelly donut with four people waiting to indulge. The donut gets cut into four, with each person receiving a quarter. But, in contrast to the individual slices of pizza, each piece of donut has bit of the jelly stuck to the corners.  
 Because the Jelly is the central point of the donut.

There are different ways of using our unique Jewish lives. 
One way is to act, dress, speak and think just like our non Jewish coworkers, although of course remembering to throw in some prayers and maybe even bentch, (while pretending to speak on the phone), where each slice of pizza is individual and disconnected.

Or, we can act, speak, dress, feel, think, and walk like a Jew no matter where we work, where we go, or what we do. 
Every word in our conversations will be refined, every activity will be one of dignity. Each action will have a little bit of the jelly at the tip. Every step we take will be guided by the Torah. 

 Judaism is not a religion. It's a way of life. We walk with it.

This does not contradict having fun.
This means having fun and getting pleasure out of life, while feeling fulfilled and content, instead of fun that leaves one feeling empty and perhaps, even guilty. 

This is what we need to fill our holes with in order to have true happiness and inner peace. A life of understanding and appreciating the value of Torah, bringing it into our lives, and making it part and parcel of who we are.



I wrote this little poem that I frequently chant to myself. It´s easy to commit to memory, and has so many different ways of  being interpreted. Choose your own.

As you go thru life,

No matter your goal

Keep your eyes on the donut,

And not on the hole.

Have a great shabbos!