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Why did we jump into it?

by Mrs. Ruth Benjamin


Library » Holidays » Shavuot » Essays | Subscribe | What is RSS?


We pride ourselves on being intellectual, thinking people. We go into things carefully before we sign a contract or invest our fortunes, especially if it can affect our whole future.

So why did we rush to respond at the Giving of the Torah, "Na'ase V' Nishma/We will DO and THEN we will understand?" Surely understanding should proceed doing. Surely we must know to what we commit ourselves.

Wouldn't it have been better to spend time studying and debating at Sinai, to decide what we can commit ourselves to, and what needed more explanation?

But it didn't happen that way. We simply accepted without knowing what we were getting into.

But let's read our first paragraph again. Do we really understand everything before we make contracts, know everything about the inner workings before we buy? Actually, this isn't always the case, and, in fact, not really often.

We buy a new computer. We couldn't possibly wait to use it until we fully understood every thing, or it would become obsolete before we were ready to Start Up.

We're careful to choose a good computer company, accepting that the computer company and its technicians know all about the bits and bites that you and I don't know about (at least, 99% of us don't know about.) When buying a new car, we go for a good 'name' rather than our limited understanding of the engine and all the stuff under the hood.

If we do only what we understand, we get a very limited Judaism. But by accepting Torah as is, we buy into unlimited Will and Wisdom. We have it all, even before we can understand it
Before 'signing the contract', G-d spoke to us through Moses:

"Say to the House of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: You have seen what I did to Egypt and how I carried you on eagle's wings and brought you to Me. Now, if you listen to My voice and observe My covenant, you will be My treasure from all nations, for all the earth is Mine. You shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Speak these words to the children of Israel."

We have had previous experiences with the Giver of the Torah. He had created Heaven and Earth and also created us. We also experienced G-d when He liberated us from Egypt. Knowing with Whom we were 'signing the contract,' we could go ahead without knowing each detail.

And so we said: 'Na'ase V' Nishma, We will do and we will understand.' We accepted the Torah fully, above and beyond human limitation. If we do only what we understand, we get a very limited Judaism. But by accepting Torah as is, we buy into unlimited Will and Wisdom. We have it all, even before we can understand it.

Matter of Fact, not Matter of Opinion

Judaism is not just a philosophy. It is an existential religion that involves the total person; not only the mind and heart, but every aspect of daily life, no matter how mundane. It has no distinction between sacred or secular, there is no elevation of the soul to the exclusion of the body.

There is the elevation of both body and soul.

Judaism differs from other religions. It is a way of life that brings about faith – the living and doing precedes the comprehension. It is in the experimental situation that Judaism is proved and understood. To verify a scientific theory, we set up a hypothesis and then act on it. Only then does the theory become fact and reality. Similarly, Judaism is 'proven' to the individual in the actual performance of the Mitzvahs. Instead of restricting us, Torah allows us to rise to our optimum levels, givimg us fulfillment without even knowing it.

Republished with permission from


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Torah » G-d's Wisdom

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.
[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
Third of the three Patriarchs and father of the Twelve Tribes. Lived most his life in Canaan and died in Egypt in 1505 BCE. Also known by the name of "Israel."
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.