By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
Once again, global Jewry starts reviewing the Torah with gusto. There are many, however, who just never seem to be able to get into the routine of consistently reviewing the weekly Torah portion. Let me tell you, if you are one of those, here’s your chance to make a capital improvement in your spirituality.
The whole theme of the Days of Awe was “Please Hashem, give me a better year and I’ll show you how I’m going to be better.” Saying the Torah portion twice and Onkelos once, is a concrete way to do just that. The very first promise in all of Shas of a reward of longevity is for reviewing the weekly Torah portion, going over it again, and saying the Targum. The Gemora in Berachos [7b] not only promises a length of years, but also quality days. After all, it’s not so special to live long if one is unhappy. But, disciplining oneself to review the parsha of the week with regularity promises just that.
Many are dissuaded from this habit because they feel unaccomplished in the effort, since they don’t understand what every word or phrase means. But, we must know that reading the holy words of the Torah and the lofty words of Onkelos, which was also given at Sinai (cf. Megillah [3a]) is considered an accomplishment, and a benefit for our souls (and our bodies as well, as we noted above) even if we don’t understand what we are saying. Of course, it is more meaningful if we use a linear translation like the ArtScroll or the Metsudah, so that when we come across an unfamiliar word like b’dolach, we can quickly glance over at the meaning, and add immediately to our arsenal ofTorah knowledge, the very essence of life.
Besides the obvious benefits of doing weekly one of the pursuits that Hashem requires of us (for the Gemora says [Berachos (ibid)], “Chayiv adom l’havir parshiosov im hatzibur shnayim mikra v’echad targum – One is required to review the Torah portion twice and say Its translation.” And besides the acquistion of a reward which no money can buy, this wonderful habit will enhance our weekly enjoyment of listening to the Torah leining on Shabbos. For, without preparation, for many the Torah leining is a soporific experience, as we listen while we are in a semi-comatose state. But, if one has already reviewed it a few times beforehand, he will find himself more actively relating to what is being said in Shul. It will also give an opportunity to think of things to share with the family at the Shabbos table, especially if when you chant it you actively have this in mind.
Parshas Noach is an excellent opportunity to speak with the children about the dangers of immorality and corruption, the dangers of alcohol consumption, the self-sacrifice on behalf of others, in the arena of kindness, that is learned from the dedication of Noach to the animal kingdom, the power of protection of a tzadik that we learn from Metsushelach. As one reviews the weekly Torah portion, one will find many practical themes that can be a part of our legacy to our family.
Here’s a word of caution. If one has an ‘off week’ or two, don’t give up. Get right back on that bike and start again! If you don’t finish every parsha this time, you’ll fill in the gap next year. After all, when one finishes the weekly portion, one is promised long life and so will have many opportunities to fill in the blanks.
After the Klausenberger Rebbe, Zt”l, Zy”a, survived the concentration camps, he dedicated himself to burying the kedoshim who were strewn across Europe. This was a serious typhus risk and indeed the Rebbe contracted the malady. While being treated in the hospital, it was recorded that he spent the time there reviewing the Torah portion for all the weeks that he was unable to do so while in the concentration camps.
When a person meets Hashem at the end of his days, Hashem will ask him, “Did you review the weekly Torah portion?” If a person was negligent in this important area of religiosity and defends himself by saying “I had no time,” “I had to make a living and spend time with my family,” Hashem will have recorded the hundreds of hours he spent perusing the sports page, the many novels that were read, the many hours spent surfing the web, and He will ask plaintively, “Was this more important than My Holy Torah?” So let this be the year that we jump on this wonderful bandwagon and make the weekly Torah portion a steady diet.
HaRav Reuven Feinstein, Shlit”a, opens a Chumash right after Havdalah and reviews the weekly sedra. He explains that he never knows when he will get very busy so he makes this very important responsibility the first of the week. One of the things we learn from this practice is what a high priority Rav Feinstein considers this weekly review – that he starts his week with this above all other things.
Enlist the help of your wife in this pursuit. Make her a partner in this endeavor and she will also benefit from its reward. Advise her that this pursuit, to finish the weekly portion, should be given high priority no matter what. In fact, doing so is also a terrific example for the children. If they see totti, abba, daddy religiously reviewing the weekly Torah portion, no matter how busy or tired he is, they will learn to do so as well.
May it be the will of Hashem that we merit reviewing the entire Torah, from beginning to end, and in turn earn Its rich rewards with blessings of long life, good health, and everything wonderful.
Sheldon Zeitlin takes dictation of, and edits Rabbi Weiss’ articles.
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