The Inheritance

“…Moshe commanded us the Torah; it is the inheritance of the congregation of Yaakov…” – Devarim 33:4

תורה צוה לנו משה, מורשה קהלת יעקב – דברים לג, ד

From the moment your son knows how to speak, teach him [the verse], ‘Torah tziva lanu Moshe…’” (Rashi on Devarim 11:19; cf. Talmud, Sukkah 42a).

Inheritance is spontaneous; to inherit requires no act or effort on the part of the heir.  It is also indiscriminate—the age, maturity or mental capacity of the legal heir is of no significance; even if the heir is a newborn baby, they immediately and fully replace their ancestors as owners of the inherited property (Mishna, Niddash 5:3). By beginning a Jewish child’s education with the message that the Torah is “the inheritance of the congregation of Yaakov,” we are telling them that they, like every Jewish man, woman and child, without distinction, are natural and complete heirs to the entire Torah.

Shma Israel

The first segment of this verse also conveys to the child the magnitude of his or her inheritance. “Moshe commanded us the Torah”—even the innovations and extrapolations of the Torah made by sages in future generations, and the secrets of the Torah that Moshiach will teach, are part of the very Torah that Moshe conveyed to us, (see Talmud, Megillah 19b; Talmud Yerushalmi, Peah 2:4, and elsewhere.) We thus hint to a child at the youngest age, “as he begins to speak,” that the Torah is larger and more profound than any portion of it he will ever read or understand.

We thereby begin the child’s life-long study of the Torah with the understanding that, at its core, the Torah utterly transcends our grasp and comprehension, because G-d has vested His very essence into it (see Shemos Rabbah 33:1). The Torah thus contains something far greater than any words we can read and any wisdom we can explore: through our reading and study of the Torah we can connect with G-d Himself. And, as rightful heirs, this opportunity is the inheritance of every Jew, whether a young child just learning to repeat the Torah’s words, or a scholar exploring its most profound ideas.

 

—Likutei Sichos, vol. 4, pp. 1165-1167

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