This week’s Torah portion BeChukotai begins with words: “Im Bechukatai Teliechu”, “if with my statutes you go”. The Hebrew word חוק - has the same letters as חקיקה - to engrave. One Kabbalistic master therefore explained the verse as follows: if you will observe the Torah in such a manner that it will be for you as a Chakikah, organically bound up with your own soul and heart and mind, integrated into your personality, then you will achieve the ability to "walk in G-ds ways”.
In the mid 1930’s Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok asked R’ Shmuel Levitin (Rebbetizn Chai’s great grandfather) to pay a visit to Mr. Listner - a Jewish philanthropist living in Chicago.
Shortly after R’ Levitin met Listner and the two spoke for some time. At the end of the visit, Listner reached for his cheque book and asked: “To which organisation shall I address my contribution?”
“None,” said R’ Levitin. “Put away the cheque book, I did not come for a donation”
“Why else would an elderly Rabbi come all the way from New York? Just to enjoy a cold drink in my office?” responded the surprised Listner.
“Let me explain by way of metaphor: In the Old Country, there were many small dispersed Jewish communities. Each community had their own Synagogue, Torah scrolls, and other religious articles, all of which are hand written, ink on parchment by a scribe, and periodically checked for flaws. The smaller communities didn’t generate enough work to support a permanent scribe, so it became common for wandering scribes who travelled to fix and rewrite erased letters and to patch up these holy works.
“Every Jew” R’ Levitin explained, “is a living Torah Scroll.” There are times when the “letters” of our Judaism get a little “rubbed off”, and we lose touch with some Mitzvot. I am a travelling scribe. My goal is to provide a little spiritual ink, a dab of inspiration and a brush of warmth towards our intimate connection with G-d.”
Listner was deeply moved by this. When R’ Levitin returned to New York he shared his parable with the Rebbe, expecting positive acknowledgment, but to his surprise the Rebbe was silent.
“Doesn’t the Talmud compare a Jew to a Sefer Torah?” he asked “Yes, - But there is one big difference”, the Rebbe responded. “The Torah is written with ink on parchment, two separate entities combined into one. The ink could be erased or rubbed off. The Jew is like a Torah Scroll with engraved letters. The Torah is engraved in his heart, and on his soul. When engraved, as were the Ten Commandments on the two Tablets, it is impossible for them to be rubbed off or separated in any way.”
May the message of Judaism be deeply engraved upon the tablets of our hearts, Shabbat Shalom.