Emor – May 20, 2016

This Shabbat:

  • Friday Candle Lighting: 7:33 pm
  • Shabbat Ends: 8:35 pm

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Torah Message:

Bored with Breathing

“And you will bring a new mincha-offering (meal-offering) to G-d.” (23:16)

Are you “burned out”?

You seem to hear that phrase a lot these days. I’m “burned out” from this; I’m “burned out” from that; I’m bored with this; it’s just lost its excitement for me.

Why do people “burn out”?

Take two people working hard. One is self-employed and the other is working for someone else for a salary. There’s a big difference between them. Someone who works for a salary often has no special, personal interest in the company other than that he wants it to exist in order to provide him with a living. And his “apathy” only increases if the company as a whole doesn’t excel in profits, and there is no bonus to look forward to.

Someone who is self-employed, on the other hand, will likely put his very soul into his work. He is the company. He enjoys the moments of triumph and he grieves over the disasters. But bored and burned out? Virtually never.

Unlike the salaried employee whose remuneration is fixed from the beginning, with only limited scope for profit participation, the self-employed person knows that the sky’s the limit. The company’s success is his success.

When we learn Torah we should think of it like it was our own business. In your own business, if things aren’t going right, who is there to put them right? Only yourself. If it takes extra time at the office, we would certainly, and gladly, put in the extra hours.

When we sit down to learn, do we mentally “punch in”? Are we waiting for the next coffee break? For the check at the end of the month? Or do we feel the exuberance and challenge of our learning as though it was our own business?

How does the Torah refer to the monumental event of its being given at Sinai?

“And you will bring a new mincha-offering to G-d.”

Why is the reference so oblique? It’s true that at the festival of Shavuot there is a command to bring a new mincha-offering to G-d. But is that the most conspicuous aspect of Shavuot? How about the giving of the Torah? Wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to spell out that on this day the Torah was given at Sinai? And yet it is with these few covert words that the Torah hints to the central event of Judaism.


The Torah doesn’t specify the date of its giving because it doesn’t want us to feel that it was given as a “one-off” event. Rather, it wants us to feel like it’s being given to us every day,and for us to receive it every day as though we were hearing it for the first time at Sinai.

The Torah is our life’s breath. Even though a person breathes millions of times in the course of his life, does anyone get tired of breathing?Why not? Since we understand that our life depends on breathing, it’s not a subject for boredom. Boredom can only set in when a person sees something as optional. Breathing isn’t optional; it’s obligatory.

This is the way we should feel about the Torah, for it is our life and the length of our days.