Torah Va’avodah - תורה ועבודה
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Estimated Time: 60 minutes
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This is the place!
- To learn some sources about the way the Torah expects us to live.
- To understand the purpose of our life style
- To find the ideal way of life
- A daily planner
- The sources should know
Short summery 1
- Why do we learn Torah?
- Who needs our work?
Short summery 2
- And the Mitzvah is…
24 hours a day – summery
- just a thought for tomorrow
1. A Daily Planner
After we all know each others’ names and a little bit more, it’s time to get to know each others’ daily lifestyle.
We will lay out a long ruler with numbers up to 24. Each Chanich is requested to stand by the number that answers the next question:
How many hours a day are you religious?
Or in other words: How many hours a day do you spend on your religious believes?
Madrich – before you read the rest think hard about were you would stand with this difficult dilemma, and don’t forget your group of friends is watching you.
I personally usually stand on a low number, something like 2-3 and that is for the hours I do things only because of the laws of the religion. While I try keeping most of my day as a Torah guided day and not only what it says I must do. All the time I spend doing what Hashem would like from me is not religion (law) but is belief in his ways.
Allow the Chanichim to explain their choice while clarifying what being religious means to them. It’s important to except all answers and not to let them feel good if they stand on 24 or bad if they stand low.
After the Chanichim explain their point of view ask them to leave an object of theirs in that place to represent them. (we will use these objects soon)
2. The Sources Should Know
After a dilemma like this it looks like we need to ask one question before the ruler is brought out: what does Hashem want from us?
We can only decide if we are keeping up to our expectations if we know what they are. Most of us know the rules of the religion but that only takes a few hours a day, the real question is if during our spare time, do we do what is expected of us as Hashem’s people, or do we just do our own things?
To help answer these questions we will bring in some sources that speak of different aspects of what Hashem expects from us.
Before you hand out the cards with the sources split the objects into 4 groups and try to put different opinions in each group, then the Chanichim go to the group according to the place of their object.
Give each group 6 cards as marked on the source cards (all the #1 are for group #1, all the #2 are for group #2…).
Each group should take their sources and put them on the correct plank of the 3 choices:
Torah and Avodah
You should find that 2 of the sources of each group relate to Torah, 2 relate to Avodah, and 2 speak of combining Torah Ve’Avodah. At least one source in every group will speak of how Hashem would like the world to be continued and completed by man. This will help with the continuation of the Peulah, but try not to get the steps mixed up.
After all the sources are placed ask a representative from each group to explain their sources meanings and the place they chose to put them.
Help lead them to understand that all the sources are directing us to both learn Torah and do Avodah, the difference is just the adjustment between them. The Torah clearly directs us to learn Torah at any available time and to take our Avodah seriously for as long as it takes. All this is only after we have kept all the duties of the Mitzvot that make sure we are staying on track.
Short Summery 1:
We asked how many hours a day we are religious and now we can explain that the religion part in our life is a small part of our Jewish life that includes activity 24 hours a day. Hashem expects us to always do positive things: either work or learn Torah.
3. Why do we Learn Torah?
We will try to make Hashem’s free time requests clearer to ourselves.
The easier one to start with is the always standing Mitzvah to learn Torah. Without going into too much depth it has 3 main reasons:
¨ To learn what we are supposed to do, so that we keep the Mitzvot better.
¨ To learn Hashem’s philosophy and engage our minds with his thinking.
¨ To make a stronger connection to Hashem by filling his words.
4. Who Needs Our Work?
Now we want to understand why Hashem wants us to work. We understand why we want to work and make a living, but if Hashem sees this as a Mitzvah there must be an ideology behind it.
Ask the Chanichim to try explaining that ideology in their own eyes.
The best answer we can get as Bnei Akiva is if we ask Rabbi Akiva directly. We are so lucky that Tornosrofus asked that question for a different reason before.
Source number 1.
Tornosrofus was the governor of the
We learn from Rabbi Akiva’s answer that Hashem could have created the world in a more perfect way, but he decided not to. Instead of that he gave us the chance to improve and influence the world. In modern words we could explain that Hashem could have created the world in the year 2002 with palm pilots growing on trees, modern architecture and high-teck technology. He didn’t do that so that we would get the chance to develop and influence the world. Hashem wants to let each one of us go through the tasks of this world and still make the world march forward.
In doing our Avodah we are taking part in the creation of the world and that makes us Hashem’s partners. Hashem wants us to take this partnership mission seriously, and that is why he gives us the Mitzvah of Avodah in so many sources. All that is left for us is to find out where we can help creation the most and choose our Avodah accordingly.
Short Summery 2:
Now its clear that in any given time of day we can be keeping Hashem’s will. No matter what we are doing as long as we are trying to develop the world or even to develop ourselves (learn) so that later on we can help the world, we are doing the right thing. All this is simple and true as long as we really mean to help the world and not only ourselves. The time that we spend on ourselves and on nothing meaningful is the time we lose on the 24 hour graph.
5. And the Mitzvah is…
If Avodah is such an important thing to Hashem, where is the Mitzvah to do it?
A very interesting answer to that can add some more light on all we have learned is brought by the Chatam Sofer in his commentary about a black Etrog in Masechet Sukkah.
Source number 2.
Chatam Sofer (Rabbi Moshe Sofer) lived in the 18th century, and was known as one of the greatest Rabbis of his time.
The Chatam Sofer explains that the words we read every day in the second paragraph of Kriat Shma "ואספת דגנך" are the Mitzvah of working the land. Related to that Mitzvah is all that we need to do in order to develop the land and the world.
24 Hours a Day – Summery
Now it looks like every thing is clear. Hashem wants us to learn Torah and develop the land. This will of Hashem is also our goal as a movement. We want to keep Torah in a full way, which means to learn it and to do Avodah.
This is a 24 hours a day process that we would like to be doing. I can at least speak for myself and say that I am far from being perfect and I have some hours in the day when I don’t think of how I am developing the world. Sometimes those hours include times like Tphila and that would mean that I am only doing it because of my religious laws.
6. Just a Thought for Tomorrow
Before we end we can raise an interesting point that the Chatam Sofer mentions at the end of his explanation.
All the plans Hashem has about developing the land and the world are only in Israel. While in Galut all we are left with is to learn Torah and no reason to do Avodah.
This is something we should think about over night and we can speak about tomorrow.
Things to Prepare:
24 hour graph
3 Bristolim with 10 paper clips for sources
We speak of Torah Ve’Avodah as if it is the most obvious thing in the world. Maybe it was to the founders of Bnei Akiva but it looks like it needs to be revised.
In our modern society we find that you can’t just name your ideology unless you know the sources it comes from. We all know that it starts from the Torah, but do we know where?