Every Saturday morning at about 8:45 a.m. you will find a group milling about the Colbert Library. Some will chat about services the night before, others about sports, and others about the problems of the world.
Some will grab a hot coffee or tea, others a little nosh, and still others will pull up into their regular (or not so regular) seat and enjoy a few moments of quiet. There will be welcoming smiles, morning greetings, and an amazing energy builds.
At 9:00 a.m. a member of the clergy team will say “Shabbat Shalom” and we will dive into the portion of the week. One of our newest and youngest Torah study regulars, a 7th-grader who, after fulfilling her required attendance has continued to join us almost weekly, shared with me a beautiful reason as to why Torah study means so much to her.
She pointed out that, when at school, she has to raise her hand and be called upon, that she feels pressure to know all the answers, and that the topics aren’t always her favorite.
However, when she joins us for Torah study she knows that she can sit, fully present, and actively engage in whatever way she wants: some weeks she can pass on reading and others she can read when it’s her turn; she can ask questions or just listen to the questions of others; and she loves that every week it’s something new! What’s most important to her is that she gets to study for the sake of studying, there’s no quiz or test at the end of a book, this is about her Judaism and feeling connected to our tradition. This is Torah for the sake of Torah, in Hebrew, Torah lishma.
The Great Sayings, Pirkei Avot 6:1*, in the name of Rebbe Meir teaches us:
“Whoever occupies herself with the Torah for its own sake (Torah lishma), merits many things; not only that but she is worth the whole world. She is called a beloved friend; one that loves God; one that loves humankind; one that gladdens God; one that gladdens humankind.”
The study of Torah enhances our spiritual lives, our relationships, and our Jewish knowledge. It’s meant for everyone, whether you open up a book of Torah every week or this week could be your very first time, we’d love for you to join us. Find fulfillment in study for the sake of study and may you have a meaningful and engaging Shabbat."
*gender changed from masculine to feminine.