For Love of Torah
If time is a river, then the Torah is the boat upon which we sail. Throughout the ages many other so-called holy books have appeared that have attempted to navigate that river, only to become wrecked and buried in the sands of its shoals. Very few have endured that test of time, and even fewer that have survived intact and unadulterated. There is only one enduring book that has traveled the course of those waters, sailing from the distant past into the never ending future. One book which has impacted on humanity through its launching of a flotilla of secondary vessels, but none that ever match the majesty and truth of the original flagship. This is its legacy, its beauty, its simplicity in retelling a story that mankind has never tired of hearing.
An Eternal Symbol
But in itself we must remember that the Torah is a symbol. Though rich in symbolism that pervades almost every page, in itself, it too is a symbol. A symbol of faith, a symbol of the will of God, a symbol of truth, but most of all a symbol of love. As Karaites we know that religions are many but upon examination they all trace their roots to the one book that we Karaites honour and venerate to the exclusion of all others. For us it is the one book that includes everything, whereas any other book is merely a commentary on its greatness. What more is needed to describe the duty and hope of mankind? What other book can portray the struggle and sorrow of our race as we strive together in our quest for God? Not only our race but the entire human race for that matter? The Torah is the loom upon which the tapestry of our lives has been woven preparing us for all that takes place from cradle to grave. Those that undertake the task to understand its words are uplifted as they are overwhelmed by its pervasive, refining and redeeming force. No other book fills us with such uplifting feelings of what is both good and true. Even those that try to deny its lasting impression still recognize that they cannot escape its effects as its moral lessons inspire others in their works of greatness.
Add to the magic of the Torah the majesty of the other books in the Tanach and one can only marvel at how their words stir the blood as we revel in the rhapsody and passion of the Prophets, the sacred innocence of the Psalms, and the eternal wisdom of the Proverbs. The ultimate struggle of God’s appointed against those that would deny liberty, justice and humanity. We bear witness to the infinite littleness of man’s place in the scheme of the cosmos but nevertheless the insatiable spirit of mankind to still strive to make a difference for the better. For countless centuries the words of the Torah and Tanach have been effused into our poetry, sung in our lyrics, chanted within our minds as their echoes of eloquence inspire and fill us with inextinguishable hope.
But never forget that the Torah is the most human of books, given of God but intended for us. We find in it consolation, pity, wisdom and guidance. It runs the gamut of human emotions having us teeter on the pendulum between sorrow and unfathomable joy. There is no malice in its honesty, no revenge in its austere and tender mercies. It pierces our hearts but the deep wounds of loss and death are healed by its echoing and sweet pathos. Withered and aged well beyond its three thousand years no other book can quench our thirst with its words that still fall on our lips like the dew of each new morning. Wet with the tears of multitudes, it lights our way like a beacon in the storm of life. I say this to all men, not just my Karaite brethren that share my love for the Torah, read it, learn from it, experience life within its pages and take to heart its message intended for all mankind. When the river has finally traversed the time of this universe know that of all man’s achievements in literature and scripture, there was only one book that we can call great.