The Ten Days of Repentance

By Shalom Olensky


This week in the Torah:

“The Torah was commanded to us by Moses. It is the inheritance of the Congregation of Jacob.” (Deuteronomy 33:4)

Talmud (Sukkah 42a):

“When a child begins to speak, his father must teach him the above verse.”

The meaning:

This verse imparts the idea that any and all development of the Torah is all included in the Torah instructed to us by Moses. I.e., however much one studies, he can never fathom the vastness of the Torah.


Why do we teach an infant to say words that hint to such a lofty and deep understanding, when he can barely comprehend even basic ideas? And why is this the very first topic to impart to him?


The Essence of Torah is really nothing to do with intellect. The Essence of the Torah is G-d’s giving of Himself to us as we are His children, a part of Him. That is why no intellectual prefaces are necessary before teaching a Jewish child that Torah is really a part of G-d. And since this is a) the basis of all of Torah and b) the definition of our existence, we instruct the child with this verse as his first words.

Yom Kippur:

The secret of the ability of a day on the calendar –Yom Kippur – to atone for our sins lies in the fact that G-d reveals His unbreakable bond with each and every Jew on this day. When this is revealed, the sins cease to exist, because on this level of Jew-to-G-d bond, the misdeeds never had a negative impact. This is similar to the oneness we have with G‑d, which makes it essential to teach a child, first and foremost, that Torah is G-d’s communication to him.

(Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. 4, Yom Kippur, Simchat Torah)

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