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Why don't I feel like the Torah I study is affecting me?

by Rabbi Yossi Marcus

  

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The Torah is compared to bread.1 If you eat unbaked dough your intestines will not digest it. Your body will not absorb it and it will not become a part of you. But if you eat baked bread it is digested by the intestines and is absorbed by the limbs. The bread becomes literally one with you. (That’s why it is so important to eat Kosher, since the food you eat becomes a part of you forever.)

So it is with the food of the soul, Torah. When it is not “baked” (as we shall explain), it does not become one with the person who studies it even if he studies an abundance of Torah. The Torah remains in its own realm and he in his own. He receives no nourishment from it like physical bread that has not yet been baked.

So it is with the food of the soul, Torah. When it is not “baked” (as we shall explain), it does not become one with the person who studies it even if he studies an abundance of Torah...
But when the Torah is “baked” within the person it becomes absorbed by all of his 248 limbs. He and the Torah become one.

The Torah has to be “baked” in the fire of the soul’s love for G-d and its desire to cleave to Him. One can study thousands of pages of Torah and remain unaffected. To digest Torah so that it permeates all of one’s being, one must evoke the soul’s sometimes-dormant love for G-d. This is the fire that prepares the Torah for human digestion.

Footnotes

  • 1. Bread is generally made with wheat, and the numerical value of the word for “wheat” in Hebrew (chitah) is 22, the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet, with which the Torah is written.

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COMMENTS

Why is Torah study not affecting me?

Posted by: Steven "Yisrael" Israel, nampa, id, usa on Jan 09, 2007

Okay, so we have an answer to the why, the unbaked bread theory...now what to do about it? How do you bake the Torah you study in the "fire of ones soul?" Nice metaphor but how about some practical advice.

Baked in the Love of G-d and the desire to cleave to him with all 248 limbs? I guess it's that "L" word I'm having trouble with! It's so hard for most men to even say love let alone do it. Where do we start? How do we get the Torah we've studied into the oven?

I think the answer is too obvious, like the old Nike slogan, "Just do it!" I read somewhere that if you try, Hashem will eventually help you achieve your goal. Study on a practical level, try to understand in a worldly sense. Love G-d with all your heart and with all your soul and he will do the rest! So that's all there is? I guess I'll just have to study on it! :)

P.S. By the way, I'm not having this experience. My Torah study has had a profound affect on my life, my world and even the people around me.

Editor's Comment

We are commanded to "You shall love the L-rd your G-d" - how can you command someone to love (feel an emotion that they don't feel)? Chassidic thought explains that the although we cannot choose to love G-d, we can choose to think about G-d's greatness and how much He does for us and loves us. When you think about it enough, you can't help but love G-d. When you love G-d and study Torah as one of His commandments you will see how much your Torah study will affect your character etc.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Kosher
Literally means "fit." Commonly used to describe foods which are permitted by Jewish dietary laws, but is also used to describe religious articles (such as a Torah scroll or Sukkah) which meet the requirements of Jewish law.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.