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The sweetest treat

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

There is special enlightenment that comes from learning someone's words of Torah on the day of their passing. 280 years ago today Rabbi Chaim ben Attar, known as Or HaChaim (the title of his commentary on the Torah) passed away. He was a pre-eminent Torah scholar from Morocco who, towards the end of his life, made aliyah despite the perilous journey involved. He is held in high esteem by Torah students of every community and every background. Here are three thoughts from among his many writings:

* "And you shall love your fellow as yourself -- in order to perfect yourself." In other words, other people are never a bother, but actually assist you in achieving personal perfection.

"He (God) commanded us to toil in the Torah, to plumb its depths. Not only to understand its words on the surface, but to extract wisdom from them through exhaustive contemplation." In other words, God commanded us to exert ourselves in learning. Or HaChaim warns against superficiality and advocates for profound examination and investigation of what we study.

* "If people could feel the sweetness and pleasantness of the Torah -- they would go out of their minds in its pursuit . . . because the Torah includes all the good things in this word." In other words, we are called upon to react emotionally and be inspired. To pay attention to what a wonderful and incredibly sweet treasure the Torah happens to be.

In his memory.


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