In honor of Israel’s 75th birthday, Israel365 is excited to launch a new series of essays that will unlock the secrets of the Hebrew Bible!
Excerpted from Rabbi Akiva Gersh’s forthcoming book, 75 Hebrew Words You Need to Understand the Bible (available soon!) these essays illuminate the connection between related Hebrew words, revealing Biblical secrets only accessible through Hebrew.
Enjoy the series – and happy 75th birthday to the State of Israel!
“And teach them to your children, reciting them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 11:19)
ולמדתם אתם את בניכם לדבר בם בשבתך בביתך ובלכתך בדרך ובשכבך ובקומך.
“And all your children shall be students of God, and great shall be the happiness of your children.” (Isaiah 54:13)
וכל בניך למודי יהוה ורב שלום בניך.
Limmud, Hebrew for “study,” is a central pillar of Judaism. Knowledge of the Bible and what God expects of us is a vital prerequisite to living a holy life. For this reason, talmud torah, studying the Bible, is considered the most important of the Bible’s 613 commandments. As the Talmud teaches, “study is great for it leads to action.”
But studying the Bible is not only important for the sake of knowledge. Studying itself, like prayer, is a means to connect to God. It is not merely an academic endeavor, but rather a deeply spiritual one. As King David writes, “But the teaching of God is his delight,
and he studies that teaching day and night” (Psalms 1:2).
Judaism stresses the value of education, and particularly the importance of parents teaching their children. “And teach them to your children, reciting them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 11:19). Jewish children are taught to read from a young age, a practice that only became more common throughout the world in recent centuries. Strong Bible education was the key to Jewish survival for two millennia of exile.
The late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks viewed study as crucial to proper and positive leadership. He said, “To be a Jewish leader means spending time to study both Torah and wisdom: wisdom to understand the world as it is, Torah to understand the world as it ought to be. Leaders should never stop learning. That is how they grow and teach others to grow with them.”