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Hebrew Bible torah

The bottom line matters little. It is the effort, investment and time that one puts into Torah study that God cares about.

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

This week’s Torah portion is Bechukotai (Leviticus 26:3–27:34), and with it we conclude the book of Leviticus.

This reading opens with the rewards that God promises to those who observe the Torah. The commentators explain that this does not merely refer to observing the Torah, but also – and perhaps more importantly so – to the study of Torah. That’s right. Simply opening a book of any Torah topic is a tremendous mitzvah (Torah commandment), and we are told that great rewards will follow.

The mitzvah of Torah study is unique in that one receives reward simply by putting in the time and effort to understand the material. Even if there is something you cannot grasp, the reward is still yours. It does not matter if you spend five minutes on a page until you understand it or five hours. It’s not quantity in Torah study, it’s the quality. Indeed, in rabbinic literature Torah study is referred to as an act of “toiling” — exerting effort and “breaking our heads” to understand what God wants from us to the best of our ability.

God rewards all mitzvot, but especially Torah study, and in a unique way. In business, it is the bottom line that matters. Nothing else. If a person is hired as a commission salesman, it doesn’t matter how much time and effort he or she puts into making the sales; the only thing that matters is the actual sale. No sale, no commission. Effort, time, investment, travel…nothing matters.

With God, however, it is very different. The bottom line matters little. It is the effort, investment and time that one puts into Torah that God cares about. You will still get “paid” regardless of what or how much you accomplished.

This is the message of the opening verse of this week’s Torah portion: Do not be discouraged if you are not a genius or not too book savvy. Everyone can gain knowledge in their own way. Pick up any book on any topic of Judaism and study to the best of your ability. That is all God cares about.

This is a vital lesson for parents and educators. Unfortunately, many emphasize and value only the “bottom line” achievements. We tend to ignore effort, we tend to ignore the weaker students, and we tend to ignore the children who do their best. We must always remember that from God’s perspective, it is the effort that matters!

For more insights by Rabbi Enkin on this week’s Torah portion, click on the links below:

https://unitedwithisrael.org/living-torah-the-meaning-behind-a-strange-rebuke/

https://unitedwithisrael.org/living-torah-study-brings-jewish-continuity/

https://unitedwithisrael.org/living-torah-blessings-can-be-brief-yet-meaningful/

https://unitedwithisrael.org/unity-or-else/

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