Torah is a guide to ethical and moral living

Near the beginning of our daily and Shabbat morning services we read this prayer: Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, who hallows us with mitzvot (commandments), commanding us to engage with words of Torah.  One might expect the wording to be “…commanding us to study words of Torah.”  Or even thanking or praising God for giving us the Torah.  

But the prayer clearly states la-asoke b’divrei Torah, to engage in the words of Torah.  Torah is not meant only to be read or studied.  Engaging in the words tells us that we are to participate in the words, to be involved in the words; the words should lead us to action.  Torah is a historical and legal document to be sure, but more than that, it is a guide to ethical and moral living.  Reading or studying how to behave must lead to action.  Torah teaches us to treat one another as we wish to be treated – now go and do it. 

This week we celebrate the festival of Shavuot.  Part of the holiday is celebrating the gift of Torah.  As the prayer book teaches us, “Torah is our life and lengthens our days.”  But only if we engage in its words.  It is not a gift to be hidden in the closet; it is a gift that leads to noble and righteous living.

Chag Sameach – Happy Shavuot holiday!  Make you have a week of blessings and a Shabbat of peace.

Rabbi Debbie Israel