D’var Torah: The Music I Liked Growing Up

15618142_mSomething happened to me today that I’d like to share with you. For some perspective, I’ll have to go back to when I was a young adult.

Do you enjoy music? I did. I do. And most probably I will. When I was a child my musical tastes were dictated by whatever my parents were listening to on the radio (Sinatra, Showtunes, Johnny Mathis, etc.). As I went through my high school years, bands like Green Day, Aerosmith, Pearl Jam, and the like, were popular, so of course those are the bands I followed. As my attitudes on life began to develop and my relationship to Judaism changed, my tastes in music shifted and, in some ways, matured. It has been many years since I was in high school (graduated in ’96) and it’s been that long that I’ve kept abreast of the pop music “scene.”

Anyway, to make a long story longer, this week one of my tires blew out on my car and I needed to have it replaced. After being shown a tire that would appropriately fit our van, the mechanic began to ring me up. Right next to my ear was a speaker that was playing from this man’s computer: Hmm. This is way too familiar…this music, no, I never heard this song before. But the beat. The voice…It’s for sure the band The Offspring. No question about it. That’s the band, The Offspring.

Okay, I hear you thinking, what’s the point?

The point is about our Torah portion. The portion where the Jewish people receive the Torah. The question I’d like to pose is: What if we haven’t engaged in Torah study in our entire life? What if, to no fault of our own, our lives have passed us by and we have not been privy to the study of our precious heritage?

The answer, in part, begins with the fitness room. Let’s say you worked out for a few years and then you took a break. You didn’t pick up a weight for years, and then you decided to start again. There is a concept known as muscle memory. The muscles of an individual who has exercised in the past will have an easier time reorienting to working out than someone who has never done so.

There is a similar concept within the engagement of the Torah and its study. We have, so to speak, a soul recall. Just as if we haven’t heard a band in many years, we are able to remember the patterns of that genre of music and place it correctly, our soul can do something similar with the Torah. We have specialized programing in our soul that, though it may not be simple to access, nevertheless exists. So when we hear a piece of wisdom, the concept rings true. We recognize it, though we have a hard time pinning it down perfectly, we can sense and feel the truth of it.

The take home: No matter where we are in life, no matter how old or disconnected we think we’ve become from the Godly connections our souls have formed, we must never despair, the memory is just one beat away.

Shabbat Shalom

*For more about the subject discussed in this article see HERE