Let My People Know

"Why does God want us to study?"

“Observant Jews are obligated to be involved in studying Torah simply to study Torah.

As a religious activity, this is unusual.

Most religions have expectations about belief and about doing the right things, but they don’t obligate you to study.

Jews, however, study Torah as an independent activity that is not directly connected with belief or action.

In fact, the most studied books in Jewish life, like the Talmud, are books that have very little practical use.

So why are people studying the laws of things that happened in remote times – and were rare even then – or things that the Talmud says never happened and never will happen?

We devote time to it because what we are doing is going after knowledge for itself, not as something that is to be used.

Not everyone has the same level of active curiosity, but study is encouraged and done as an obligation.

The number of classes and lectures available in an observant Jewish community cannot be compared to anything that happens in any other place.

Why does God want us to study?

Theologically, it is a way to commune with Him.

The ability to study for the sake of study is what I call one of the very true human traits in which we are, in a certain way, higher than angels.

The angels don’t seem to have any curiosity; they know everything.

And animals learn only what they need to live.

So the only beings who are curious about anything are people.”

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From the essay “Curious Jews” by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz