There was once a scholar who was quite arrogant despite—or perhaps because of—his Torah knowledge.
He once chanced upon Reb Zushia, a Chassidic master known for his humility, who taught him a life lesson.
Reb Zushia quoted the Talmudic discussion of whether the holy ark containing the Torah scrolls could be counted toward the 10 men required to form a prayer quorum—a notion the Talmud suggests and then rejects, noting that an ark is not a person, and only people can constitute a minyan.
“Why did the Talmud originally think,” Reb Zushia asked his visitor, “that the ark containing the Torah scrolls can be counted? Surely the Talmud’s rejoinder, that an ark is not a person, is obvious?”
The man was dumbfounded, not knowing what to respond.
“Although an ark is merely a wooden box,” explained Reb Zushia, “it contains within it Torah scrolls. It was therefore supposed that the Torah it contains may elevate it to human status. The truth is, however, that despite the Torah you possess, if you remain a wooden box, unaffected by the Torah you’ve learned, you’re hardly a mentsch (righteous person).”
The name of this week’s Torah portion, Bechukotai, can be linked to the Hebrew root word that means “engrave.” Just as words etched in stone are not a distinct entity from the stone itself, so must our studies be internalized and engraved upon our hearts—or else we are but wooden boxes.
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This little story is reminiscent of the parables told by Yeshua (Jesus), Himself a Torah observant Jew. There is a profound lesson for Christians here, as well. The Apostle Paul expounded on it in 1 Corinthians 13:1, to wit: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (agape love), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal”
Or, put in another light: should one own every translation and/or version of the Bible, bound in the finest leathers, and have studied all of them from cover to cover, to the point that he can quote appropriate book, chapter and verse as the occasion demands, if what has been read is not being applied to one’s life, if it is not being lived then we, as Christians, are hardly better than the animal skin with which our Bibles are bound. ~ Pilgrim