IF ONLY I COULD SEE THE FOREST

Previous Chapter

POWER-TORAH

Midrasha chaviva lai the learned one is dearer to him. This is a term used by the Talmud to explain why the rabbis placed special emphasis on laws that were not clearly specified by the Torah, but which were extracted using principles of drash.
(Torah refers to both the Written Law and the Oral Law, both of which, according to tradition, were given to the Jewish people by God at Mt. Sinai 3,305 years ago (the Oral Law details the 613 commandments found within the Written Law). Though the Written Law and Oral Law are two distinct bodies of learning, it is understood that the entire Oral Law and all its details are alluded to within the Written Law. Certain principles can be and have been used to "discover" precisely where in the Written Law the details of the Oral Law can be found. This process is called drash, and it is this that is what primarily concerns the Talmud.)

The rabbis did not invent new Torah, for the Torah says that one is forbidden to add or subtract from it. Rather, they "discovered" insights - sights into the Torah - that already exist but are not obvious.

Torah is like a wine cellar filled with the best of wines. As the "owner" of the wine cellar, you possess the ability and the right to walk into the cellar at will and take what you want to lift your spirit and allow you to enjoy life more. All you have to do is enter and take the wine; all you have to do is search out the insight within each word of Torah, behind each rabbinical statement.

There is a famous story told about a man who dreamed for three nights in a row about a buried treasure hidden under a bridge in another town close by. Believing that his dream was true, he set out with his shovel for the other town in search of his buried treasure.

He traveled the short distance to the next town, not knowing exactly where to go when sure enough, the bridge he dreamed about appeared. He approached the bridge, got out of his wagon, and after checking to see that no one was around, began to dig. Unfortunately though, a passing police officer spotted him and sought to arrest him.

"Please don't arrest me," the man pleaded. "Let me tell you why I am digging here. For three nights in a row, I dreamed about a treasure buried here in this dirt. Allow me to find it, and I will share it with you."

The officer laughed and said, "Silly man! I too dreamed about a buried treasure not far from here, buried under a pot-belly stove in someone's home. Do you see me running to unearth my dreams?"

The man was curious and asked, "Sir, what town was it that you saw in your dream?"

"Why, it was about 25 miles from here."

"And what did the house look like?"

The office described the house in detail, and it matched the manís house exactly.

"Officer, youíre right. It was silly of me to follow my dreams and dig here. Will you let me go this one time?"

Well,Ē replied the officer, thinking the man was truly sorry, "Okay, but just this time. If I catch you digging again in the public domain, Iíll have no choice but to arrest you."

"Thank you, officer. Thank you very much."

The man picked up his belongings and ran back to his wagon. He hurried as fast as his horse could go back to his house. Upon arrival, he went to the pot-belly stove and began to dig exactly where the officer had described. To the manís utter amazement, he found a treasure of gold and silver buried exactly where the office had seen in his dream.

The moral of the story: the gold we seek is already under our feet, and it is ours for the taking - if we believe itís there, and we care to dig for it. However, if one looks again at the parable, there is more to learn. After all, had the man not first dreamed of gold in the other town, had he not rushed out there to dig for it, and had he not come across the officer who had his own dream of gold, the man would never have found out about the gold in his own home.

Perhaps this too is part of the message. Yes, the gold is under our feet, and yes, we need only dig for it. But to discover where it is, we first have to dream of finding it and be willing to go beyond our immediate vicinity to dig for it. Only then will we come across the necessary people and insights required to see the "gold" beneath our feet.

Carrying through the analogy, one must think beyond his or her immediate vicinity of focus. One must consider what insights lie beyond that which one presently concentrates on and be prepared to dig for those insights. This, in turn, leads to insights in the very section of learning with which the person was presently involved.

It is then that one begins to truly enjoy his or her learning. It is then that one can develop sincere love for Torah. It is then that the power of Torah can be felt and enjoyed like no other pleasure known to man in this world. Awesome. Its vastness can sometimes make a person feel insignificant, but if one "grasps" it, it is uplifting, inspiring, a source of greatness.

© by Mercava Productions

Table of Contents
Rabbi Winston's main page
Back to Neveh Homepage



The webspace for the Neveh Zion site has been generously donated by



send your comments to webmaster@neveh.org