Rabbi Benjy Rickman
Former shaliach in Capetown (1998- 99)
Currently Head of Kodesh in King David High School Manchester and Assitant Rav at Holy Law Shul

Click Here for the PDF version

We are blessed to be living at a time when Torah knowledge is so accessible. Apps give us a fully stocked Jewish library on our phones. Baruch Hashem there are more young people studying in Yeshivot and Seminaries than ever before in history. However, in this golden age of Torah study and access to Torah , I am not sure whether we also have the reverence and respect for the Torah that existed when Torah was harder to study and seforim were treasured as prized items.  If the world of apps brings Torah closer it also makes it just one of a million apps that can be downloaded. Together with the latest games or news feeds we now have a Torah library.

This week’s Torah portion contains a well known pasuk.
Ki shem Hashem Ekrah– when I call out the name of Hashem, Havu godel Le’lokeinu– attribute greatness to our G-d.

When we hear Hashem’s name or words of Torah {which according to the Kaballah is considered entirely names of Hashem} we need to respond with a focused appreciation towards the giver and author. We cannot just lounge around feet up swiping our devices or listening as we travel to work. Our minds and hearts must be alive to Hashem. The Gemarah is Massechet Brachot 21a teaches this lesson:

And from where is the mitzva by Torah law to recite the blessing over the Torah before it is read, derived? As it is stated: “When I declare Hashem’s name, give glory to our G-d” , meaning that before one declares Hashem’s name by reading the Torah, he must give glory to G-d.

Remember that Chazal saw the omission of birkat Ha’Torah as the cause of the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash. The inability to fully appreciate Torah as the word of Hashem leads to its message being just one more, amongst a cacophony of noise that makes up our day.

After Moshe completed the Song of Haazinu the Torah says: “And when Moshe finished reciting all these words to all Israel, he said to them: Take to heart all the words with which I have warned you this day. Instruct them to your children, that they may observe faithfully all the terms of this Teaching.

Rashi explains that “it is necessary for a person that one’s eyes, heart and ears, should all be attentively directed to the words of the Torah.” Availability and access are precious gifts of modern living. It is up to us to show how much we cherish the gift but immersing ourselves fully in the experience. At this time of the year, many people look to enhance their Mitzva performance. When we hear a good song all our body moves. The lyrics and tune grip us and transform us. The same must be true of the Torah. Let us treasure the song of Haazinu and hear, feel and see it’s message. The reason is found in the very next pasuk “For this is not a trifling thing for you: it is your very life.”