Get More Enthusiasm for Your Judaism!
Experiencing a broad range of emotions in short period of time is surprisingly not unusual. Truly joy and grief can follow on each other’s heels however, it is rare that such a dramatic shift can be found by pointing to the calendar. This past week began with Tisha B’Av the day that concentrates the totality of the Jewish experience as persecuted minority in exile and concludes with the euphoria associated with the Twelfth Siyum HaShas, Completion of the Babylonian Talmud by the Daf Yomi , daily folio study program. Literally Tens of Thousands gathered in major sports and entertainment venues transformed for the evening to places of the spirit. More than 90,000 filled the Metlife Stadium in New Jersey along with a simulcast to some 100 other locations. The New Jersey gathering followed two major assemblies in Eretz Yisrael earlier in the week. Why ? Why such a big deal over reading a book?
The Torah says “And the Lord said to Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the Torah, and commandments which I have written; that you may teach them.” (Semoth 24:12).Why the apparent redundancy? Torah and commandments? evidently they are not the same thing. Torah of course is the text of scripture and the commandments refer to the commandments’ details which were transmitted orally. Moshe charged Bene Yisrael at the end of his life to zealously protect the oral tradition “What ever I command you, take care to do it; you shall not add to it, nor diminish from it.” (Devarim 13:1). After Moshe’s passing the Oral law was transmitted from one generation to the next each taught based on their own personal records as well as interpretations and commentaries derived through traditional methods of interpretation. Over the course of time exile, persecution and oppression made committing the Oral Torah to a written form necessary which some 40 generation after Moshe received the Torah at Sinai became the Talmud.
Each page of Talmud seeks to plumb the depths of its discussions in an uncompromising search for truth. Each topic is approach with the awareness that ultimately the Rabbis seek to accurately discern and apply G-D’s opinion on a particular topic thereby opening up every aspect of life on the planet to the D-vine. No matter how ordinary or everyday there is a way that action can be carried out or refrained from that serves to do nothing short of harmoniously aligning creation according to G-D’s design. Consequently every page carries with it the fate of all creation.
The Talmud then is much more than a compilation of ancient wisdom but a means to transform one’s life from the common to the cosmic. The First letter found in the Babylonian Talmud is Mem, the last letter is Tuff together they spell the word Met, a corpse. This though is quite remarkable it is though Rav Ashi and Ravina the the Rabbis who made the final editing of the Talmud wanted to teach studying their Torah was pointless, dead. However if one only sees the Rabbis’ wisdom, insight and rigorous use of logic then only age distinguishes the Talmud from any profound work of ancient wisdom. Maybe this why at the Talmud’s beginning the text discussed the recitation of Shema (Devarim 6:4) at night. Nigh time is regularly understood as an analogy to Exile as a time opposed to Holiness. Shema is a declaration of one allegiance and belief in G-D A-lmighty, the Alupho shel Olam, the World’s Leader. Once one is committed to faith and studies the Talmud the student brings an Aleph to invest within the pages of the Talmud forming Aleph, Mem, Tuff Emett Truth. Truth is unique, vibrant,Eternal and transcends every barrier. Therefore by learning the Talmud, lifting the words off the page in to the psyche and soul brings more truth in to the world till truth fills all the Earth. A state of mind that approaches the Messianic era May it be realized very soon.