web analytics
September 1, 2015 / 17 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Our Torah Heritage


The-Shmuz

“And these are the statutes that you shall place before them.” – Shemos 21:1

The Das Zakainim teaches us that “before them” means before the Jews and not before the gentiles. The Torah is for the Jewish people exclusively.

He then brings an example of this concept. On the inside of almost every Chumash is the targum written by Onkelos. While Onkelos became a profound talmid chacham, that wasn’t his beginning. He was a gentile, the nephew of the Caesar Andriannas. He became aware of the truth and desired to convert to Judaism, but he was afraid of his uncle’s reaction.

He approached his uncle and said, “I wish to engage in commerce.”

His uncle responded, “If you need money, my treasure house is open to you. Take whatever you need.”

Onkelos responded, “It isn’t money I seek; it is knowledge. I wish to go out to discover the ways of the world. Please, my uncle, give me advice. What type of merchandise do you recommend that I invest in?”

Andriannas responded, “Find a commodity that is depressed in value. The ways of the world are cyclic. What is low now will rise later, and you will ride the crest upward and find your fortune.”

With that, Onkelos left to Israel and approached the Chachamim, seeking to learn Torah. They told him, “The Torah cannot be absorbed by one who isn’t Jewish.” He converted, went to yeshiva to learn, and became a talmid chacham.

At a certain point, he returned home, and his uncle noticed that his appearance had changed. “Why do you look different?” he asked.

Onkelos responded, “Because I converted and have learned Torah.”

“Upon whose advice did you do this?”

“Yours, my uncle. Didn’t you tell me to invest in merchandise that is currently depressed because surely it will rise? I searched and found no nation as downtrodden as the Jews. Yet in the World to Come, there is no people that will be as exalted.”

His uncle was so impressed with this line of reasoning that he promptly smacked him across the face. “You could have learned Torah without converting!” he exclaimed.

Onkelos responded, “Torah cannot be learned by one who doesn’t have a bris milah.”

While this is a beautiful story, when we take into account two points a powerful question emerges.

1. We are dealing with a man who is clearly brilliant. Once he converted, he became such a master of the Torah that he was able to distill all its wisdom into a concise targum that has become universally accepted throughout the generations.

2. We are dealing with an extremely motivated individual. He was living in the lap of luxury, enjoying great power and prestige, and had the entire world open to him. He was a favored nephew of the most powerful emperor of his time. When he approached his uncle for help, his immediate response was, “My treasure house is open to you.” In simple terms, he had everything a young man could dream of. Yet he was willing to give it all up, at risk of his position and maybe even his life, to go to a foreign land to learn Torah. Clearly he was a driven individual.

With all this, why couldn’t he learn Torah without converting?

The answer to this lies in understanding the nature of Torah. The Torah is pure wisdom from Hashem. A Rashi on Chumash can be understood by an eight-year-old child. Yet that same Rashi contains worlds of depth and opens up to understandings that are infinite. Any human being can study geometry, physics, or business law. The Torah is different. A Jew is uniquely suited to learn Torah, to be able to plumb it depths, and to reach the Divine wisdom contained in it. But more than simply the ability to learn Torah, we were given a tremendous receptivity to it.

This seems to be the answer to the question. As wise and as motivated as Onkelos was, he could never have mastered the Torah had he not become a Jew.

This concept is very relevant to us because the Torah contains all the wisdom of the world. There may be times we feel overwhelmed by the challenge. But the understanding that the Torah is our exclusive heritage and that we are uniquely suited to learn it should be a motivating force to help us set goals of mastering our portion in Torah.

About the Author: Rabbi Shafier is the founder of TheShmuz.com. The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at www.TheShmuz.com or on the Shmuz App for iphone or Android.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Our Torah Heritage”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, welcomes students on their first day, in Raanana.
2.2M Israeli Children Return to the Classrooms
Latest Judaism Stories
Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

The common translation of the opening words of this week’s parsha, Ki Seitzei, is: “When you go out to war against your enemy.” Actually the text reads “al oyvecha” upon your enemy. The Torah is saying that when Israel goes out to war, they will be over and above their enemy. The reason why Bnei […]

Rabbi Avi Weiss

The love between Gd & Israel is deeper than marriage; beyond the infinite love of parent for child

Q-A-Klass-logo

Question: When a stranger approaches a congregant in shul asking for tzedakah, should the congregant verify that the person’s need is genuine? Furthermore, what constitutes tzedakah? Is a donation to a synagogue, yeshiva, or hospital considered tzedakah?

Zvi Kirschner
(Via E-Mail)

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

Since giving the machatzis hashekel will not change his financial situation, he is obligated to do so even though it is more than a fifth of his income.

Today, few people fast during the Days of Selichot, but the custom is to rise early to recite Selichot.

Each month is associated with a particular tribe. The month of Elul is matched up with Gad. What makes Gad unique?

Sanctions and indictment of the Jew, holding him to a higher standard, is as common and misplaced as ever.

To allow for free will, there are times when Hashem will allow a person the “opportunity to be the messenger.”

“There is a mitzvah to pay the worker on that day,” answered Mr. Lerner.

Be happy. Be grateful. God knows what he is doing. It is all happening for a reason.

We get so busy living our lives, handling our day-to-day little crises that we forget to go that one step deeper and appreciate our lives.

The promise for long life only comes from 2 commandments; What’s the connection between them?

Mighty Amalek deliberately attacked enemy’s weakest members, despicable even by ancient standards

If we parents fail to honor responsibilities then society’s children will pay the price for our sins

Consider how our Heavenly Father feels when He sees His children adopting all other parents but Him

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
Shmuz-logo-NEW

To allow for free will, there are times when Hashem will allow a person the “opportunity to be the messenger.”

Shmuz-logo-NEW

Everything you see – from the flower to the bee, from the oceans to the mountains, rivers, planets, the sun, the moon and the stars – all just sort of happened.

“When Hashem…will broaden your boundary as He spoke to you, and you say, ‘I will eat meat,’ for you will have a desire to eat meat, to your heart’s entire desire you may eat meat.” – Devarim 12:20   For forty years in the midbar the Jewish people ate mon. Guided by Moshe Rabbeinu, engaged […]

The farmer understands he didn’t bring the rain. It wasn’t his acumen that stopped the pestilence.

Man has conflicting wishes and desires. Man has forces pulling him in competing directions.

On Super Bowl Sunday itself, life seems to stop. Over one hundred million people watch the game. About half of the households in the country show it in their living rooms and dens.

We are affected by our environment. Our perspective on the world is affected by what those around us do.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/our-torah-heritage/2013/02/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: