Articles and Teachings
Five Ethics of the Fathers
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On the surface, the Ethics is giving us a generalized listing of the first 23 generations of Torah's chain of tradition from Mt. Horeb to our day. On a deeper level, it is imparting the five primary qualities, which are crucial to anyone who approaches the study of Torah.
The "right path" obviously, is the path of Torah, however, there are two ways a person can walk this path: he can walk it as a stranger, or he can choose it as his own.
The spirit of the Torah command is fulfilled by simply walking the path – (Lifestyle reflects the written word). It may be difficult and uncomfortable. It may be a lonely path, scorned by society and a burden to those who walk it. But as long as they obey its signposts and remain true to its path, they have fulfilled their duty to The Eternal and man. As far as man is concerned; that would translate to being a light unto the gentiles; and to bring Jew’s back to the original faith and mandate as it was given to Moshe.
But the devout - (devout), wants more. He wants the soul of HaTorah. He says to himself, if this is the right path, why don't I desire it with every fiber of my being? If this is the right path, why doesn't the entire world recognize it as such? Obviously, there is much about myself that requires improvement and development, obviously, there is much about my world that requires improvement and development. This is the true and original Hebraic Torah mind-set.
However, the devout also knows that to attain the soul, he must first attain the body. To choose the path, he must first walk the path. To make Torah the path, it should be in harmony with his wiles and desires; he must first subordinate these to its Instructions. To make that the path, we need to be in harmony with it, and commit to it despite its unpopularity, and searching & following original Torah is quite unpopular.
The devout know that life's journey has two chapters. In Chapter One, Moses receives the original Torah and to all subsequent generations, as the divinely ordained path of life. In Chapter Two, this right path is chosen as harmonious for the one who does it, and harmonious for all mankind, yet unrealized because most of us HAVE NOT been doing the original mandate as given to us through Moshe - To be a light of The Eternals Torah to the gentile populations!
Most Rabbinic Jew’s today are all too happy to stay within the meager confines of service to the surrounding Jewish populations. However, they have all seen attendance falling way down just like the Christian communities. This is because Rabbi’s have become like their Christian counter parts, white washed tomb stones, if I may steal a Christian parlance; thus they speak allot, but teach little. Their main focus should be on training new teachers to go out and fulfill the original mandate; because by the Torah, and even by Rabbinical understanding, EVERY Jew is able to be a teacher / Rabbi of Torah to the gentiles. This was the main commission, this is the need.
Moses certainly knew who he was. He knew that he was the one human chosen by The Eternal to communicate His wisdom and Will to man. Nevertheless, the Torah attests: "And the man Moses was the most humble man upon the face of the earth."
Indeed, a lesser man, or a man less aware of his greatness, could not as poignantly exemplify the essence of humility: the understanding that man attains what he does with the gifts bestowed upon him by his Creator. "Had any other man been given what has been granted me," Moses would have said, "he most certainly would have accomplished far more than I."
To study Torah, a person must engage his mind and maximize its prowess, an experience that usually inflates the ego and increases a person's sense of self-importance – (this is a trap). So the example of Moses is cited as a prerequisite to the proper study, and of course subsequent teaching of The Eternals wisdom: apply your intellectual gifts to the utmost, but remember that these are indeed gifts, and the purpose to which they have been granted to you.
"The young man, Joshua the son of Nun, tribe of Ephraim, would not budge from the tent." Faithfulness, diligence and perseverance were the traits that characterized Joshua; these traits deemed him worthy to assume the mantle of leadership after the passing of Moses and to serve as the second link in the chain of the Torah's transmission from master to pupil. Although after Joshua’s long life and eventual death, the elders brought it all downhill from there.
The greatest mind, the most pious of hearts, cannot hope to master Torah without years of devoted days and sleepless nights; "You shall study it day and night" for only then will your efforts meet success. You have to bleed for it. This is the Hebrew mind-set.
It has to cost you
The Hebrew word for "elder", (zakein), is related to the word (kanah), to purchase; thus, Hebrew understanding defines an elder as "one who has purchased wisdom." as in - "If someone tells you, I have not toiled, but I have accomplished, do not believe him," advised the sages, who also stated, "The Torah is attained only by one who kills himself over it." I am not a sage of course; but I will add; that the truth of Torah is attained because The Eternal ONE has seen the proof of your seeking, its consistency, and allowed you to see that which most are not able to see plainly.
You cannot do it on your own
Original Torah is the wisdom and will of The Eternal One. To comprehend Torah is begin to know the infinite mind of the Creator, which is by definition mostly unknowable. So the Torah must be granted to us, as we say in the blessing recited prior to its study, "...blessed are You Eternal One, Who gives us the Torah." Hebrew though says, It is only because The Eternal desires that the human mind should comprehend Him, only because He chooses to transcend the line He had drawn at creation between the finite and the infinite, that we are capable of understanding a single word of Torah. Thus, the study of Torah is unlike any other science. I will take that a step further and say that even though a man’s mind may be studious and ready to learn, that it is his hearts true confessions, which are known only to The Eternal One that gains him success from The Eternal in obtaining deeper truths, which others will not see, accept or appreciate, from that man. While success in any field of knowledge is strictly a matter of intellectual ability and drive, a person's moral and spiritual qualifications are paramount when it comes to the study of Torah. For ultimately, everyone who masters the wisdom of Torah is a prophet, one whom The Creator has chosen to allow a glimpse of His truth.
5) "The Great Assembly"
Make it real
The "Men of the Great Assembly" were a council of 120 sages who led the Jewish people at the time of their return to the Holy Land in the 4th century B.C.E. after three generations of exile in Babylon. Many challenges faced the fragile, recovering nation, ravaged by 70 years of displacement and deep pagan assimilation. The Men of the Great Assembly applied what was left of their Torah knowledge to address the needs of their time, instituting a unified text for daily prayer and many other statutes and ordinances as guides; not replacement of original Torah, however they became just that as time progressed. This is the final of the five principles upon which one's approach to Torah must be based: Torah must never be studied as a theory. The loftiest of its concepts must be carried on through everyday life.
V’Shee non tom
“With GOD at all times”
Dr. Shmuel Asher ©2003/11
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