Friday, May 16, 2014

Pizza Or Donuts?

Some people seem to have perfect lives. I know families who have multiple BMW's and go on yearly cruises, and have beautiful, smart, healthy children, they have respectable careers, they give of themselves to the community, they're popular, have harmony in the home...I mean, can anything get better? 
And yet, most of these people, rich, full lives and all, seem to feel as if their lives are chocolate glazed donuts. Yes, life is full and rich and shiny and enjoyable.... 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 bechukosai teleichu...if you go in the way of my chukim...then the Torah goes on to list a whole bunch of brachot that'll come your way. But, im bechukosai 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.
So, instead of solving this problem, I think another one was just created. Rashi seems to be explaining that the learning of the Torah is a chok.
What's a chok? It's a law in which the human mind can't see the reason behind it.
Is Rashi telling us that learning Torah is a chok? It would seem to be a mishpat, since we do know why we learn it!
 We learn Torah, so that we can keep it!
Like, when that long awaited moment of receiving a drivers' license arrives... in order to be able to do the driving, you must first learn how to drive.
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. Of course we understand why that's a must.
 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 it be that people spend 50 or 70 years of their lives sitting on a bench, that might as well have been a swing, and read, learn, and shake, and actually feel fulfilled?
It's because they understand the beauty of Torah, they appreciate its worth. If someone came into your office five minutes before closing time and offers you a million dollars to stay five hours overtime, who will think twice about staying? Of course you'll work longer, since you understand and appreciate the value of the dollar.
So, the learning of the Torah, we understand is a mishpat, but all the extra toil is a chok since we, as outsiders, can't humanly understand why someone will stay up til two AM learning, only to wake up again at four and resume, but he does it because he appreciates it and loves it. And that brings him to an increasingly high level of happiness. True happiness.

Now, remember  the other issue we had? The 'walking' thing?
This is the act, other than breathing, that comes most naturally to a person. You don't have to think 'right, left, right, left...' as you walk, unless you're at your graduation. You just walk.
To walk, is literally a way of life, since it's one's most natural action.
 The Torah is supposed to be not something we just 'keep' or 'do' or 'study'. It should become a way of life. Like we walk without thinking, since it's a part of us, we need to do the mitzvos like they're a part of us. They need to become a part of us.
Remember the people we spoke about whose donut lives have holes in them? So here's an idea. Let's fill up the holes!
Listen to the recipe:
 There are some donuts that come filled. Let’s take one that’s filled with jelly, as our example.

There are 2 types of Jews in the world:
A Jelly Donut Jew and a Pizza Pie Jew.

Which group are you a member of?

When you have a pie of pizza, and you have 8 people waiting to eat, you slice up the pie into 8, pull out each sizzling slice, and each person receives their own piece. Now, say we have a jelly donut with 4 people waiting to indulge. So the donut gets cut into 4, with each person receiving a quarter, but together with each piece, comes along a little bit of the jelly in each corner.
Because the Jelly is the central point of the donut.

There are different ways of using our unique Jewish lives. We can act and dress and speak and think just like our  coworkers or neighbors, although of course remembering to throw in some prayers and maybe even bentch... 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, or what we do. Each action will have a little bit of the jelly at the tip. Every step we take will be guided by the Torah.
Because Judaism is not a religion. It's a way of life.
We walk with it.
 This is what brings us fulfillment and happiness. This is what people need to fill into their holes in order to be truly happy. A life of understanding and appreciating the value of Torah , and bringing it into your life making it part and parcel of who you are.


And since I’m in a poetic mood….

As you go through life,
No matter what your goal
Keep your eyes upon the donut,
And not upon the hole.

Have a great shabbos