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THE WATERS OF TORAH

by Daniel Lasar    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

All of the people answered together and said, 'All that Hashem has spoken, we will do'" (Exodus 19:8).

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All of the people answered together and said, 'All that Hashem has spoken, we will do'" (Exodus 19:8).

There are doubtless occasions in which people, though interested in Judaism, find it difficult to practice their faith because some aspect of observance appears to be too demanding, or something which the 20th century left behind. While such people may find it fulfilling to discuss and apply lessons of living which are culled from the sacred texts, being Jewish in the theoretical is no substitute for being Jewish in the real, here and now.

There may be times when one will walk out of a synagogue sermon thinking, "Wow, saying the kiddush on Shabbat is something which I hope to do down the road. Acknowledging the sanctity of the day sounds like a wonderful idea." It is, however, likely that once the surge of inspiration generated by the rabbi's uplifting message has subsided, such a person may find excuses not to engage in this observance for any number of reasons. His spouse might not be so keen on the idea, or his friends may wonder why he is participating in such an "archaic practice". However, if such an individual does give it a try, he may find that his prior hesitations pale in comparison to the splendor of his newfound religious experience.

The following story sheds light on this concept of "We will do" spoken of in the above verse: Leading from his beach-house, an excited father takes his little son by the hand as they make their way toward the panoramic seashore. He eagerly tells the boy that he should wade in the pools of water which are left behind by the retreating waves. The young lad, having never seen the ocean before, cautiously tip-toes to the rim of the water which is glistening in the morning sunlight. "Go ahead son," the father prods, "it's fun, you'll like it." "But what's it like?" the little boy responds. His father replies, "It's incredible, but I really can't describe it to you. Just go in and try it for yourself." The little boy's mind races as he ponders the eminent "dangers" of the beckoning pool. After much deliberation, he tentatively dips his foot into the water and little by little, comes into the pool, resulting in an uncontrollable feeling of happiness for finally arriving at this new and exciting experience. The boy shouts to his father, "You were right, Dad. You really can't describe it, but it sure feels great!"

Similarly, Hashem has directed us to the waters of Torah, but it is up to us to tip-toe into them. At the momentous giving of the Torah, our people said, "We will do". Before casting away the idea of observing some tenet of Judaism, give it a chance. Find out what it feels like to experience the wholesomeness of a family Shabbat meal absent the hectic work-week, the enlightenment in learning Jewish texts, or the solemnity of donning tefillin. If we will actually attempt to live as Jews, and not just think about Judaism, we will afford ourselves the opportunity to experience the wondrous gift which Hashem gave us on a Shabbat morning over three thousand years ago at Mt. Sinai. The Torah gives meaning to life - try it, you may just like it. "And if not now, when?" (Hillel, Ethics of our Fathers 1:14).

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Daniel Lasar is a second-year student at Emory Law School in Atlanta.

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