Sunday, October 07, 2007

DVAR TORAH S2: Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah/Bereishit

My eyes have been opened! During the end of the Torah service today I realized something.

In today's Torah portion, the Torah of which we restarted yesterday, we read the account of Creation. God created humanity, in the form of Adam and Eve which he put in the Garden of Eden to till and to guard. He also placed within the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (read: not so good) and the Tree of Life, these being known as the Etz HaDaat Tov V'Ra and the Etz Chayim in the biblical Hebrew. After Adam and Eve sampled of the first tree, God expelled them from Eden lest they eat of the Tree of Life and live forever. Now why would God allow such dangerous items into His Garden? God Forbid that God was not able to foresee this happening! However what are these trees? I mentioned that I realized something at the end of the Torah service. We have something else we call the Etz Chayim, the Tree of Life, and that is Torah, that which we so recently celebrated by dancing, food, and Oh Lord, so many drinks. Prior to this we spent seven days feasting in huts, little gardens of earthly and heavenly delights before we replaced our sticks and lemons with Torah Scrolls for the next holiday.

Why would God place fiery chruvim there with fiery ever-turning swords to guard the path to the Tree of Life? I think that indeed the Torah is the Tree of Life there, something that indeed grants immortality, to both those sealed within its tomes and those that have held fast to it for over 3300 years. Adam and Eve gained knowledge, or the ability to learn, the easy way but were not ready to receive Torah. No, it took the experience of our forefathers and the centuries in Egyptian slavery for our ancestors to take claim of it. Back to the fiery angels, the angels tried to kill Moses, says a Midrash, when he ascended to heaven to retrieve the Torah, but God commanded Moses to cling to His Throne while Moses rebuffed the murderous angels and secured the Holy Torah to deliver to Israel.

My Rabbi said when he announced an Adult Bar Mitzvah class a few weeks back that the Torah means nothing and possesses no gifts if you are unable to read it and appreciate reading it. Israel, which treasures knowledge above most else was able to take possession of the Torah and forever expound upon it. Holding fast to it and never giving it up, that is our immortality.

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