This week’s Parsha begins with the words: “If you follow My statutes”. Rashi clarifies that “following” here doesn’t mean to just follow (as in observe) – because in the same sentence the Torah also says, “and observe My commandments,” so the fulfillment of the commandments is already stated. So what is the meaning of “If you follow My statutes”? It means that you must toil in the study of Torah [for the word for “follow” here, תֵּלֵכוּ, literally means “walk,” which is a strenuous activity (Gur Aryeh)]
Rashi explains that we are instructed to “toil” in Torah and Mitzvot. It should be challenging and demand an investment of time and energy.
This mentality of commitment, hard work, and extreme effort is often undervalued in society today.
We are trained to invent ways to make our lives more comfortable, to find shortcuts, to save time and energy whenever possible. We often value and seek things that make our life easier, and we avoid having to “toil” whenever possible! New inventions and technologies are always being introduced and researched in order to make our lives more comfortable and efficient.
When one struggles to really learn and understand Torah wisdom, or goes out of their comfort zone to do a good deed, they are growing and developing their spirituality.-Rabbi Shmulik Yeshayahu
Here, the Torah reminds us the value of toiling, of investing our whole selves into something important. The importance of going out of our comfort zones and of being totally devoted and committed to Torah and good deeds. Being present and working hard for what is important adds tremendous value to how we grow and evolve as humans: with the sweat and blood comes growth, an expanded mind, a kinder heart, and a deeper appreciation for that which we hold dear.
Finding the easy way out doesn’t add character, doesn’t help us grow or gain wisdom.
Just like we would not offer a ride to a friend training for a marathon, because we realize that the energy and investment is crucial to reaching their goal of becoming stronger and faster, so too, when one struggles to really learn and understand Torah wisdom, or goes out of their comfort zone to do a good deed, they are growing and developing their spirituality.