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S.A.L.T. - Sunday

Rav David Silverberg

In the opening verses of Parashat Bechukotai, we read of the blessings that God promises to bestow upon Benei Yisrael "im be-chukotai teileikhu ve-et mitzvotai tishmeru" – "if you follow My statutes, and you observe My commands."  Rashi, citing Torat Kohanim, famously explains that the phrase "im be-chukotai teileikhu" actually refers not to the observance of mitzvot – which is mentioned immediately thereafter ("and you observe My commands") – but rather to intensive Torah study.  In Rashi's words, "she-tiheyu ameilim ba-Torah" – "that you toil in Torah."

The Maharal of Prague, in Gur Aryeh, offers two explanations for how, linguistically, Chazal interpreted the phrase "im be-chukotai teileikhu" as a reference to "toiling" in Torah, noting that the verb "teileikhu" literally means "walk."  Walking, the Maharal writes, as opposed to sitting or standing in place, requires effort and exertion.  "Walking" with the mitzvot, therefore, refers to the investment of hard work to study and understand the Torah's laws, in all their depth and complexity, to the best of one's ability.  Rather than approach Torah learning with an attitude of "sitting" or "standing," being prepared to learn only to the extent to which this can be done easily and comfortably, without effort, we are expected to "walk" – to exert ourselves and work hard in the pursuit of Torah scholarship.

Secondly, the Maharal writes, Chazal perhaps saw in the word "teileikhu" an allusion to continuous effort, to constantly "walking" without stopping.  "Ameilut" (toiling) means that one does not feel content with a superficial understanding, but rather applies himself to probe deeper to grasp the information more thoroughly.  We are to "walk" in Torah in the sense that we must recognize that there is always more to learn, more questions to ask and more possible answers to consider, and deeper layers of comprehension which we have yet to unearth.  "Im be-chukotai teileikhu" thus implies that we continually "walk" without stopping, constantly seeking to broaden our knowledge and deepen our understanding of Torah.



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