Learn Torah Now!: Torah Study Response on Ask the Rabbi
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Learn Torah Now!

I am 66 years old and have recently gotten more interested in my Jewish heritage. I see many young people in my neighborhood (Manhattan) getting together for Torah study sessions and I envy them. They are young and can absorb new material, but at this stage my brain is less pliable. So I am reticent to "dive in" to this world. Any suggestions?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

When it comes to Torah study, there is no time like the present.

Maimonides writes (Laws of Torah Study 3:7):

"Perhaps one will say: '[I will interrupt my studies] until after I make money, and then I will return and study; [I will interrupt my studies] until after I buy what I need and can focus less on my business, then I will return and study.'

"If you think like this, you will never merit the Crown of Torah. Rather, make your work provisional and your Torah study permanent. Do not say: 'When I have free time, I will study,' for perhaps you will never have free time."

Some people use the excuse, "I'm too old to begin learning." But we know that Rebbe Akiva didn't even learn the Aleph-Bet until he was 40 years old. This is the same Rebbe Akiva who became the greatest sage of his generation with 24,000 students!

Some people are hesitant to learn Torah because they can't imagine ever becoming a scholar - so therefore why even get started? But that is faulty thinking. Every drop of Torah study is precious and eternal.

The story is told of Rabbi Yosef Kahaneman, who lived in the Lithuanian town of Ponevich. In the 1930s, when the Nazi threat grew grim, he escaped and made his way to Palestine. Arriving on the shores of Tel Aviv, he proudly proclaimed: "I have come here to establish a Yeshiva."

Those who had come to greet the rabbi were perplexed: "Apparently you are not aware," they told him, "that Rommel's troops are now stationed in Egypt, and planning a total invasion of Israel. The Jewish Agency is destroying its records; the rabbis are distributing thousands of burial shrouds throughout the country. Our annihilation is imminent!"

"That will not deter me," replied Rabbi Kahaneman. "Even if I am able to spread Torah learning for only a few days, that in itself would be of eternal significance."

Rabbi Kahaneman built the Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, and named it after his Lithuanian town of "Ponevich." Today it is the largest Yeshiva in Israel with thousands of students.

Here are some tips for getting started:

• Get a basic Jewish library for your home. This will enable you to study at your own pace.

• Try some of the online Judaism courses at www.jewishpathways.com .

• Listen to audio lectures from the thousands of titles available at www.aishaudio.com .

• Sign up for one-on-one Jewish learning, where any subject can be learned, by phone or in person, at a time that's good for you. This service is absolutely free. www.partnersintorah.org

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