Pirkei Avot, “Ethics of the Fathers,” states in chapter 6:6: “The Torah is acquired in 48 ways.” This week: Way #30, “Loving the Omnipresent”
In a memoir of his father’s Beth Din, Nobel Prize winner I. B. Singer describes a dapper visitor who at first enthralled his father, then enraged him.
Initially, the visitor engaged his father, a Torah scholar, in deep conversation about the Torah. The visitor cited sources far and wide; he recited long passages by heart. Whatever Rabbi Singer knew, the visitor knew better. The rabbi was very impressed.
Then things changed. The visitor made an ultra-cynical proposal, telling the rabbi: “I no longer believe in G-d or Torah. But since you do, you surely hold that because of my superior Torah knowledge I am due a huge reward in the Next World. I am willing to sell my reward to you for 500 zlotys!”
The rabbi was stunned and disgusted, as well as amazed that a person could fall so low. If one does not love the Omnipresent, then His Torah is transmogrified into 500 zlotys (which the rabbi forked over to the scoundrel just to be rid of him). But if one does love the Omnipresent, then His Torah is a wellspring of meaning more valuable than any amount of zlotys.
The 30th way to acquire the Torah: Loving the Omnipresent.
Way #1, Study; Way #2, Listen; Way #3, Articulate Speech; Way #4, Understanding of the Heart; Way #5, An Intelligent Heart; Way #6, Awe; Way #7, Fear; Way #8, Humility; Way #9a, Joy; Way #9b, Purity; Way #10, Serving the Sages; Way #11, Interaction with colleagues; Way #12, Exchanges with students; Way #13, Deliberation; Way #14, Scripture; Way #15a, Mishnah; Way #15b, Limited Business Activity; Way #16a, Limited Marital Relations; Way #16b, Portion Control; Way #17, Limited Pleasure; Way #18, All nighters; Way #19, Limited Conversation; Way #20, Limited Entertainment; Way #21, Slowness to anger; Way #22, A good heart; Way #23, Faith in the sages; Way #24, Acceptance of suffering; Way #25, Knowing one’s place; Way #26, Happiness with one’s lot; Way #27, Have a filter; Way #28, Claim no credit; Way #29, Being beloved