This world is filled with treasure
hunters—people looking for riches in all of its forms –wealth, power, position
and glory. They search high and low for
clues and directional signposts to show them the way. A recent article reported
on the activities of one of the most successful hedge fund managers in the
world whose fund returns a whopping 36% a year (net before fees). To accomplish this he uses a vast
array of sophisticated computing equipment reputed to be worth over 600 million
dollars and 150 employees who hold doctoral degrees in fields as diverse as astrophysics and linguistics rather than in
finance. All of this combined brain
power is used to sift through huge amounts of raw data eliminating what appears
to be irrelevant information or “noise”
and scrutinizing what remains for
patterns with the goal of discerning investment trends and directions. If we think about it, the tools for this
search may be new, but the methodology
is not. It is the age old process of mining for minerals and gold by clearing through
tons of dirt and rock to reveal the riches
within, using computers rather than digging tools.
So much of mankind is on a
seemingly never ending search for success and fortune, however, at best, their
endeavors produce only transitory gains.
This is in contrast to the enduring legacy of our nation which we acquired 3300
years ago when we merited to receive the durable, eternal wealth of our holy
Jewish teachings (Torah).
the giving of the Torah, we were not asked to be searchers seeking out subtle
clues and vague directives. We did not
have to explore the heavens and plumb the depths of the seas. We did not even have to climb to the top of
the lowest mountain upon which it was given in order to receive it. It was
brought down to us—by our leader and emissary, Moshe Rabbeinu. The question
then as now was not how to find it, but
rather how are we to comprehend, appreciate and incorporate its treasured value
into our lives? There are maps and
guideposts that are available to help us with this exploration. All it requires is for us to take a fresh
look at some old familiar landscapes.
To start we might wish to consider the place
of its presentation. The desert is a place that is separated from the busyness
of the world—a place where the world’s standards and distractions do not
impinge—a place where we lacked the ability to be self sustaining, but in fact
had to rely upon the Creator’s (Hashem’s) kindness and protection. In this place, greatness is measured in
humility rather than in power and wealth for ones’ very survival depended upon
the willingness to humbly accept the direction of the Creator of the Universe. And thus we find our first prerequisite for “mining” the treasure that is
our Torah—that is the ability to allow the Torah to guide us rather than us
making determinations that impose our own limitations upon it.
Another key for accessing the Torah’s
eternal wisdom and guidance is derived from the fact that it was given from above
but was received below. This
alludes to the fact that the Torah emanates from a place that is “above”
natural law, but in order for us to benefit from the wealth of our Torah these teachings
need to descend into all facets of our lives.
How does this happen? Ordinarily, it is difficult
to evoke changes in habits and behavior, therefore perhaps the intense roaring thunder
and streaking lightening bolts at Har Sinai may have been much more than just an
introduction of the giving of the Torah but actually served to “jolt” the whole
nation out of their old mind set in order to elicit the new spiritual revelation
that was to follow. For us it can serve
as a lesson reminding us that before
valuable growth in the service of Hashem) can occur, there often comes a
challenging “storm” – ie: a difficult situation or person that jolts us and in so doing actually helps us to
realign with Torah directed sensibility and sensitivity.
This perhaps explains the fact that the entire
nation experienced a transposition of the senses in which they heard
what they saw and saw what they heard. We, who are the beneficiaries of the
Sinai revelation, can continue to benefit from this vital experience, if when hearing
of some else’s difficult problems – we see what we can do to help them.
Likewise when we see someone struggling – if we allow ourselves to hear
our inner voice guiding us as to how we can react most sensitively to their
needs, we will hopefully bring closer the final redemption (geula), may it be
soon in our days.
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