Why I had Almost Given Up on Chumash

When I was becoming more interested in Judaism, I learned that the word “Torah” comes from the word “hora’ah,” meaning to teach, to instruct. I was taught this meant that each day’s Torah portion had a vital lesson for our daily lives, even in this contemporary world. Frankly, I didn’t buy it.

Learning from the Chumash seemed more like a mean, endless intellectual game than a pursuit of true understanding. I would scan the pages of the Chumash for any trace of a comprehensible message for an average Jew like me, but the big picture always remained a mystery entrapped somewhere in the frantically futile back-and-forth between Torah, commentary, and dictionary. On the rare occasion that I’d succeed in decoding the antiquated English translation, I still couldn’t extrapolate any real meaning when so much was hidden in commentaries that were on another part of the Chumash, or even referenced in another book that I didn’t have access (or energy) to go research.

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