At different points in history, certain things were popularized and idealized, only to be deemed irrelevant later on. Take, for instance, the changes in public opinion on political issues, clothing styles, or even education — most things are temporal. Yet, there are some things that stand beyond the test of time: love, peace, justice, truth, happiness, and purpose. These values will never go out of style, and in a similar vein, we can begin to see the timelessness of Torah.
The Torah encapsulates the very essence of life. Hashem did not merely give us a book of laws to obey or a history book of the origination of our nation. Rather, He gave us a guide to the secrets of the world, a book with the secrets to love, peace, justice, truth, happiness, and purpose. The Torah is perfect, and when Hashem gave us the Torah, he allowed us to bring that perfection into our lives and the life of the world.
In Tehillim, Dovid HaMelech writes, “The teaching of Hashem is perfect, renewing life; the decrees of Hashem are enduring, making the simple wise” (19:8). This encapsulates the identity of Torah, as the Chalban writes in Talelei Chaim, “The Torah is the aspect of eternal life, the revelation of godliness in the layers of the upper soul … The upper worlds are always perfect, therefore the Torah, which is pertinent to the uppermost, always stands in perfection, and in this way, it’s an absolute anchor for the lower worlds, because it will not fall in their fall nor be diminished in their destruction” (Tefillah, p. 22).
We see from Dovid HaMelech and the Chalban that the Torah is our anchor in this world, something that does not change or morph; it’s a constant we can always hold on to. Life is chaotic, often filled with unexpected obstacles and hardships in our personal, professional, and communal lives. It’s in those moments when we most clearly recognize the need for guidance and direction, not an in-the-moment piece of advice on a specific issue, but an overarching philosophy or foundation that grounds us. This is Torah, Hashem’s perpetual words of wisdom that lead us to fill ourselves with connection, meaning, holiness, and Hashem-consciousness.
In Masechet Kiddushin, the Gemarah tells us that Hashem created the evil inclination and Torah as its antidote (30b). Through our study and growth in Torah, we can heal ourselves of the negativity and inhibitions festering within, but on a greater scale, we can bring that healing to the whole world.
On Shavuot, we celebrate our revelation and receiving of the Torah from Hashem, not only as a historical event in the past but as an everyday revelation in the present. The perpetual relationship we develop with Hashem and His Torah is meant to bring our lives to a higher and higher quality of living. In Tehillim, it speaks of a happy person who always thinks about Hashem’s Torah, and it describes him in the most wonderful of ways: “He will be like a tree planted by streams of water, that gives its fruit in its season and whose leaves do not wither, and everything he does will prosper. Not so with the wicked, because they are like straw that the wind blows away” (1:3-4).
When we connect to Hashem through Torah, we become like a tree that is always revitalized and replenished. Our lives soak up vitality, excitement, and Divine meaning, and unlike the futile meaningless of the wicked, we will feel as timeless as the Torah we cherish. Shavuot is a time to plug back into that mindset, to feel the revelation of the Torah that is forever.