Torah and Mitzvah

Torah ScrollsI learned a little Hebrew today. Thought it was worth sharing.

Torah” = “Law” in Christian Bibles, but in a Jewish bible it’s almost always translated “teaching.” As Christians, we typically talk about the Old Testament law as the means by which God showed us, how much we needed a Savior. (“Cause we couldn’t live up to everything the “Law” required.) Therefore, we think of the “Law” as a condemning sort of thing. If we could think of it more like Jesus did, like our Jewish friend do, I think we’d be thinking more accurately.It may be subtle, but it makes a difference. Let me show you:

Psalm 1:2 – “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.”

but if we read it the way our Jewish friends do, it’d say:

Psalm 1:2 – “The teaching of the Lord is His delight, and he studies that teaching day and night.”

Our Jewish friends, think of the “Law” well the “Torah” very differently. The Torah is a blessing – not a condemnation. It’s God “teaching” which helps us to live life more fully. Their attitude toward “Torah” is much more in line with it’s intent, and therefore more in line with God.

In much the same way, “Mitzvah” is translated “commandment.” We hear that word as burdensome – as something which comes from a domineering authority figure. But our Jewish friends hear it differently – in a positive way. They say things like “I had the opportunity to do a mitzvah today when my neighbor needed some help.” It’s not a burden, but an opportunity to honor God in a special way.

Bottom line: I think our Jewish friends have it right. If we could learn to think of these terms like they do, I think much of the weight of our faith would be lifted and we could live in freedom by rejoicing in His “Torah” (teaching) and looking for opportunities to perform a “Mitzvah” (commandment).

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