web analytics
October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



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 the Shmuz.com – The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at the 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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Do you know where your vegetables grow?
Not So Kosher Shemittah L’Mehadrin
Latest Judaism Stories
Greenbaum-102414

Noach was the lonely man of faith living in a depraved world, full of wickedness.

Parsha-Perspectives-logo

Avraham became a great man during the 175 years of his life, while his predecessors became increasingly wicked, despite staggering knowledge, during their lifetimes of hundreds of years.

Rapps-Rabbi-Joshua-logo

Shem realized that he owed his existence to his father who brought him into the world.

Daf-Yomi-logo

Law-Abiding Citizen
‘That Which Is Crooked Cannot Be Made Straight…’
(Yevamos 22a-b)

The flood was not sent to destroy, but to restore the positive potential of the world.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Why is there is no mention of dinosaurs, and other prehistoric animals, in the Torah?

Strict din demands perfection. There is no room for shortcomings and no place for excuses; you are responsible.

Surprisingly, my husband and one son arrived home over half-an-hour earlier than usual. I excitedly shared my perfect-timing story, but my better half one upped me easily.

Noach felt a tug, and then heard a rip. His jacket had been caught on the nail, and the beautiful suit had a tear.

Boundaries must be set in every home. Parents and children are not pals. They are not equals.

Noah and his wife could not fathom living together as husband and wife and continuing the human race

The Babel story is the 2nd in a 4-act drama that’s unmistakably a connecting thread of Bereishit

Our intentions are critical in raising children because they mimic everything we parents do & think

A humble person who achieves a position of prominence will utilize the standing to benefit others.

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

Strict din demands perfection. There is no room for shortcomings and no place for excuses; you are responsible.

The-Shmuz

I, the one who is housed inside this body, am completely and utterly spiritual.

When Hashem formed man, He gave him the keys to Creation. As the Midrash tells us, Hashem said to Adam, “This is your world now. You are in charge of it; take care that you don’t destroy it.”

Imagine a man who, after having a few too many drinks, gets into his car and begins driving. It takes a while before he is pulled over, but finally the police arrest him, and he stands trial for driving while intoxicated.

This world has its purpose; it has been ideally fashioned to allow man to grow.

Our understanding of what is and what is not possible creates imagined ceilings of opportunity for us.

How can the Torah expect me today, thousands of years after the mitzvahs were given, to view each mitzvah as if I’m fulfilling it for the first time?

A replica reminds a person of the original. Granted it is in miniature, and granted no one would mistake it for the original, but it carries, almost in caricature form, some semblance of the original.

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

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: