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Fire of the Torah

Fire of the Torah

Why did Rabbi Weinberg, zt"l, call his organization Aish HaTorah?


The medrash tells the story of Rebbe Akiva, a 40-year-old shepherd who could not even read the Aleph-Bet. Every day, Rebbe Akiva would bathe daily by the same waterfall. One day he noticed a rock that had been holed out by a constant drip of water. He concluded: If something as soft as water can carve through solid rock, how much more so can Torah – which is fire ("Aish HaTorah") – make an indelible impression on my soft heart. (Avos D'rebbe Nosson)

One might think that Rav Noach chose this story because Rebbe Akiva was the paradigm baal teshuva (returnee to Judaism): He started learning late in life, and went on to become the greatest sage of his generation, with 24,000 students learning under him at one time.

But this is not the part of the story that inspired Rav Noach to name his yeshiva. He explained:

As a young man, Rebbe Akiva may have been unlearned, but he was still religious. So why was he unlearned? At some point Rebbe Akiva had become discouraged and gave up learning because he thought that despite his dedication and perseverance, he was not really changing. The water on the rock, however, was an epiphany. To the naked eye, it would seem that each drop of water was having no impact. Yet in reality, over time those drops bore a hole, completely transforming the rock. Similarly, Rebbe Akiva concluded, in Torah learning every drop counts, but requires patience before the transformation becomes manifest.


No Torah that we learn is wasted.


Rav Noach understood that modern technology – microwaves, cellular phones, blackberries, etc. – has created an instant world. We almost never have to wait. But that is only true for the physical world. Spiritual growth always requires time and patience. Rav Noach believed that a generation spoiled by technology needs to know – more than any other generation in history – that every drop of God's Torah has the power to transform a person, if we have the patience to persist. No Torah that we learn is wasted. Rebbe Akiva's understanding of this made him great. And Rav Noach saw this as the key to reaching out to Jews today.

This was Rav Noach's confidence in the power of Torah. "God's Torah works," he would always say. And it was this belief that led him to undertake the incredible responsibility for Klal Yisrael. He believed passionately in the fire of Torah to make a revolutionary impact on each and every Jew.

February 28, 2009

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Visitor Comments: 3

(3) Zelig Pliskin, March 3, 2009 12:31 AM

LIfetime process, but we can make a major llead in a moment

Yes, spiritual growth is a lifetime process. Day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute we can connect with our Father, our King, Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Torah, Prayer, Kindness, Character development is an ongoing journey of constant development and growth. We all have setbacks and we need to strengthen ourselves and keep growing. But at any given moment we can make a major difference in our life with a determined decision to be and do more. For example, a new student coming to Aish Hatorah who never studied Judaism before, will make a major leap forward after he sees the beauty and depth available. Before he was totally unaware. Now he is a beginner. He has made the decision to continually learn and grow. Every elevated moment of inspiration raises us. We see with a new vision. We upgrade our thoughts, words, and actions. Let us all keep learning and growing constantly. And let us share our knowledge and insights and awareness with everyone we can Let us keep lighting the fire of Torah in every Jewish heart. And let us be living examples for the entire world of what is possible when he have elevated aspirations.

(2) ruth housman, March 2, 2009 5:20 AM

the eternal flame

This is so beautiful and I am so glad I read this. I have been thinking, for a long time, about the metaphoric significance of flame in all its contexts and surely, flame is also for love, as in, "I have a new flame". I think of Moses and the burning bush when I think of fire, and of that manifestation of God in the bush that was not consumed. I think this piece about water and fire is just beautiful and so true. The metaphoric connects with nature for all of us, have a deep, profound significance, and all I can say again, is Thank You for this explanation of Aish Ha Torah.

(1) Felix Delgado, March 1, 2009 5:22 PM

Yes!The Torah is Fire!

Iam a baal teshuva.When I started to read The Torah in english becuase I don't read hebrew,It began to change the way I see the worldI now see

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