Let My People Know

"No one can claim ownership of the Torah"


The act of studying Torah contains an apparent contradiction. 

On the one hand it is a very private and intimate act that connects a Jew’s innermost being to God. 

And just as no one can eat or sleep for another, so too, no one can study the Torah for another. 

On the other hand, studying Torah is a very public act, in the words of Moses: “An inheritance to the entire community of Jacob”. 
Indeed, no one can claim ownership of the Torah. 

It belongs to the entire nation of Israel, and it must be shared by every Jew who possesses even a minimal amount of its information. 

So is the study of Torah a “vertical” act between man and God, or is it a “horizontal” act between men? 

The answer lies in the weekly Shabbat prayer, “God…grant us our portion in Your Torah.” 

Each Jew has a personal portion in the Torah that relates to his or her soul. 

This portion serves as a gateway for each Jew to enter into the Torah and explore it. 

Hence, the Torah is described as, “longer than the earth and broader than the sea,”  for it is not limited to a specific prototype. 
Rather, each Jew can and should find his portion in its infinite sea. 

Once this is achieved, the learner of the Torah must then assume his duty and obligation of sharing it with the entire ‘community of Jacob,' regardless of his background or level of knowledge.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From a lecture by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, January 25, 2009, rendered by Rabbi Pinchas Allouche