This week, those who are learning daf yomi will complete 176 pages of Bava Basra, to complete the masechtah. I am proud to say, I am amongst the lucky.
I am not a religious feminist. I have stated many times that I am happy with the mitzvoth given to me by the torah, I have no need to go to shul (except for CBS KC2, hamyvin yavin), make minyan, lay tefilin, etc. etc., but learning torah has deep meaning for me. T.A.G. laid a deep foundation of limud torah, that was concretized at Stern College.
We are created in G-d’s image and commanded to be like G-d, G-dlike. We women are the “akeret habayit/the foundation of the household,” the ones who instill in our children early on the love of G-d, Judaism and Torah. We learn how to be G-dlike by doing His commandments. We know His commandments by learning Torah. The Torah, the five books of Moses, the written law, are the bricks of Judaism, while the oral law, Mishneh and Gemarah are the grout, they fill in the blank spaces in the law. The written law is not literally understandable without explication and elucidation by the oral law.
I spent hundreds of hours learning American/New York/New Jersey law, so that I could advise clients on one of many areas of law. I spent hundreds more hours in my Master of Tax program, so that I could advise clients on tax issues. I spent 30 years practicing law to build up my expertise in Trust and Estates and tax law. At any time, I can retire, and give up the practice of law.
Not so Judaism. While I practice law at the office, I practice Judaism 24 hours a day. While I spent 3 years to become an attorney, and 3 more for my masters, I spent 10 years being formally educated in Torah. But Judaism is the practice of Judaism, it is the living of Judaism forever. Then why stop, ever. We live it forever, we should build our knowledge of it forever. Ki hem chayenu, v’orech yameinu, uvahem neehegeh yomam v’lailah/Because the Torah and its laws are our lives, and the measure of our existence and we should study these laws day and night.
Alas, we also have to live our lives, make money and raise our children, and so I appeal to those who are extraordinarily busy to take heart. I have been on a mission for half of my life now to urge everyone I know and love to incorporate the lesson of tipah achat/one drop [at a time]. The theme comes from the story of Rabbi Akiva who was a shepherd until age 40. He was wondering whether he should learn Torah, but thought of himself as too old. One day he came upon a stone, which had water dripping slowly upon it, and over the years, that water, one drop at a time, made a deep impression/ridge in the stone. He understood, that he had to start somewhere, one small drop. And that’s how he became the great scholar, Rabbi Akiva.
My bracha/blessing to you as the world daf yomi completes its Masechet this week, is that you have the clarity to take on the challenge of learning Torah regularly. I am not saying every day. I am not saying once a week, can I ask you to start once a month. There are usually classes locally on the first of the Jewish month/Rosh Chodesh. If you want, pick the first day of the secular month if you don’t know when the Jewish month is, and go to Torah.org or Aish.com, and spend a few minutes on a topic that interests you. You can go to Chabad.org and there is a daily passage that literally takes less than one minute to read, and will inspire you for the day.
I have told you this story, but I will continue telling this story. When I was 26 years old and single, I would take the one hour in which my father went to shul on Friday night, and learn the torah portion of the week. I did that for three years. One day, I decided to move from the Five Books of Moses to the Book of Joshua, and when I completed Joshua, I moved to Judges, until 14 years later, at age 40, I invited 90 women from the community to join me for a morning of learning from different teachers and to join in the joy of my completing all 24 books of the old testament. When I started, I had no lofty goal, but one week turned into another, and before I knew it, I had completed the Books. The theme of the gathering was one drop of water. For me it meant one hour a week. It made a deep impression on me. I asked those invited for a gift, take on a steady time to learn Torah, one drop at a time.
And then something happened recently that gave me pure joy. One by one, friends and family started contacting me, “Suri, I am finishing the book of Joshua, Mommy, I completed Tanach this year in Israel, Suri, I am already up to Jezekiel.” My movement is finding traction, people are taking on the Tipah Achat movement, and they are finding joy and gratification at fulfilling their own challenge. It is bringing them closer to HKBH/G-d, and I hope this movement goes viral.
TRY IT, YOU’LL LIKE IT. Don’t take my word for it, go now to Chabad.org, and look at one passage for 20 seconds, and determine if it adds to your day.
Tipah Achat/One drop at a time. During the three weeks now. Now with a new Masechet in Gemarah starting, catch the wave!!!! For those who want to dive in to an exciting Jewish Learning experience, visit Jretreat.com join the excitement August 8th – August 13th in Palm Springs California.
Good luck/Hatzlachah Rabbah.
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how you progress.