Kenneth Cohen

Appreciating the Torah

This week, we will be celebrating Simchat Torah, when we finish the yearly cycle of reading the entire Five Books of Moses. It is a day of rejoicing, when we show appreciation for our most precious gift, the Torah.

It has been recognized by all religions, the importance of having a Torah, for guidance and direction. But it is the aspect of it being a book of laws for all mankind, that gives it, its special significance.

The non-Jewish world is commanded to follow the Seven Noachide Laws. One who observes them meticulously, is capable of becoming righteous. For Jews, there are 613 commandments, and one who observes them with great care, is able to achieve holiness.

The most essential point to recognize is that the Torah is a book of laws, and without laws, man cannot survive. Often I will hear people describing their growth in becoming more spiritual. It is good to seek spirituality, but if this quest is not accompanied by a basic system of laws, it will not succeed.

The Torah recognizes this when it says that man’s inclination, is evil from his youth. When man is left alone, he will rationalize, and be led to sin. This is so evident by what has been taking place in the world. When there are no rules, there is no morality. The yardstick becomes, “feeling good,” or doing whatever “makes you happy.” And when this philosophy has no limitations, anything goes.

The Torah’s laws and principles, are desperately needed, to set limits. It recognizes that man is incapable of deciding what is good and right. For if he is allowed to do so, he will self destruct.

We show our gratitude for the Torah on Simchat Torah, as we acknowledge that without it, the world would again be filled with nothingness.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at