Midreshet Amit


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The Relevance of our Torah

By: Mrs. Nili B'Simcha

I love jumping up on a chair in the beginning of the year and exclaiming exuberantly to the girls, "if you did not find yourself in the Torah portion, you DIDN'T GET IT YET!" Meaning that with enough curious exploration, it is always possible to find meaningful relevance to our personal lives, in every parsha...

For example, just last week the girls arrived in Israel on parshat Ki Tavo, the portion which discusses 'coming to the Land that Hashem swore to our forefathers to give us.' (Dvarim 26:3) It goes on to discuss putting 'our hearts and souls into our Torah observance' (26:17). It would be hard to determine if this was the charge given to the girls by Hashem in the parsha, or by the Amit administration during the 9am morning pep talk! It goes on to say if they follow God's rules, it will be good for them... and if not, not. This is how they begin seminary as well.... the girls hear messages of, if you truly dedicate yourself to your learning,  you will meet much success, and if you spend too much time on Ben Yehuda after curfew, it probably won't turn out so good for you! You may be reading this as just a little article, but if you think about the hashgacha pratis of the timing of the parsha here, it is totally wild! Like personal advice delivered right from the Master of the Universe to your daughter!

This week, in parshat Nitzavim, the immediate relevance is revealed ever so clearly again. Nitzvavim is the Shabbas before Rosh Hashana. This week we spend much of our energies focusing on 'the Big Day!' A day beloved for it's apples & honey and sometimes secretly dreaded for the endless hours standing in shul. So nu, what is the personal relevance to our lives from this week's portion? Right there in the first few psukim we read how we the people are gathered together, all standing before God, to pass into a deal with God, so that we will be His people and He will be our God. It's the same idea as Rosh Hashana (crowning God as our King and new decrees being established for the new year ahead), right there in the of the portion of the week before Rosh Hashana!

So you might be thinking, really? Standing before God and standing in shul? Is that enough to suggest that every portion of the Torah is relevant to this moment in our 2018 lives? Well, if you read on, parshat Nitzavim also drops some major 'truth bombs' on us that couldn't be more perfectly timed! In psukim 30:8-10 the Torah talks about 'returning and listening to the voice of Hashem.' So? Well, what is the central idea of the high holidays? Perhaps you might answer, teshuvah? In English we sort of butcher the concept by explaining it as 'repentance' (oiy vey, sounds dreary!). But in Hebrew, teshuvah can be broken down to tashuv H (as in the letter 'hey,' as a reference to the hey of Hashem). In other words, teshuva (the essence of the chaggim) is returning to God (or chassidic-ly explained as returning to the Godliness in us)! And there it is right in the parsha! Not only that, but of all the 52 portions in the Torah, there are very, very few references to teshuva. I mean, this God of ours, he is just brilliant, this is golden! 

Not convinced yet? Usually at this point of the school year, there is a level of intimidation. After a summer of fun, release, and perhaps a slew of beach trips and movie chill-outs, the girls arrive in a new environment of purity and shelves full of books with a million advanced Hebrew words lining their pages! All of a sudden, the achievement they are meant to strive for is Torah learning and connection to Hashem. I believe it appears to each girl that every other girl knows more Torah than they do, and already has way more discipline in getting started with chevrutas, praying and the like. It can be frightening and may feel so far from anything that seems possible for them. But there we have it, right in 30:11-14. The idea that teshuva, Torah, and this way of life is not distant, it is not impossible, rather it is 'very near to you- in your mouth and in your heart- to perform it.' Hashem reassures us in this week's Torah portion that He understands us, He gets that some holy goals seem too big or daunting.... and really the truth is, (I hope He is whispering back to your daughters in their prayers) you got this... it is already in your heart... you can do this... it is on the tip of your tongue... and We're in this together...

So yes, I love this idea that the Torah is not just a history book, but rather, as Reb David Sacks in LA says, it is Infinite Eternal Wisdom compressed into the finite, into sentences that tell not only the tale of thousands of years ago but also reveal our challenges and blessings found in our modern 2018 lives...

So may we all be blessed to clearly see ourselves, our lives, the guidance we seek and the answers we yearn for in this Eternal Wisdom, amen, ken yehi ratzon.