Torah is a Hebrew word. It’s root is the Hebrew word Yorah which means teaching. It is the word used to refer to the five books of Moses as well as the oral tradition that accompanies it. The Jewish people view the Torah as G-d’s word, His instructions on how to live and as the source of everything in this world. It is believed that the Torah was created first of all and the world afterwards as the place in which it can be carried out.
One of the most special ceremonies in Judaism is that of the ceremony of the welcoming of a new Torah scroll into a community. The scroll is danced through the streets under a wedding canopy, accompanied by joyful singing and dancing. For someone looking in from the outside this can be startling- what is it about this scroll that causes the Jewish people to so deeply revere and love it? Perhaps a couple of insights offered by Jewish sages will enlighten the subject.
Rav Shimshon Refael Hirsch taught that the root of Torah is Harah which has a variety of possible meanings; planting seeds of knowledge, conceiving, parent and source of instruction. This insight provides a beautiful insight into the multi-faceted role of the Torah. It is not just a book of rules, as many mistakenly believe it to be. It is the source of all knowledge in the world, our connection to our Father in heaven and everything in this world can be found within it.
The Sfat Emet said that Torah is accessible to all. Any person can learn from it. But when it comes to being Torah, that is, living the Torah with one’s entire being, one needs to be like a desert, empty and ready to receive. This perhaps explains why the Jewish people received the Torah in the Sinai desert. This was G-d’s way of explaining the way human beings must be in order to accept it again in every generation. Just as the first generation of Jews who received the Torah did so in the barren, empty desert land, so too, every Jew must make themselves as humble as the desert in order to merit the ability to live the Torah.
Before one can spill over the treasures found in the Torah in to the world in order to illuminate it, one must work on himself to ensure that he is like an empty vessel. A vessel that is filled with vanities and impurity will not be able to absorb the Torah in the same way that someone who has refined himself and works on himself on a constant basis can.
Check our Torah mantles and pointers within our Synagogue category.