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A Living Sefer Torah

In honor of the 60th birthday of my dear friend Reb Yaacov n”y, who is a living example of the following Machashava, and in honor of the Yahrtzeit (17th of Cheshvan) of Rav Reuven Katz, rav of Petach Tikva and author of Degel Reuven. His son, Rav Leizer Katz, was a rav in Passaic, New Jersey, for many years until his petira in 2001.

Our Sages taught: “Whoever writes a Sefer Torah it is considered by heaven as if he accepted the Torah at Sinai.” One must write a Torah even if he has one from his father. The choicest form of the Mitzvah is to actually write a Torah by hand.

This can be understood as the obligation for each person to write a “Sefer Torah shel Chaim” – A Living Sefer Torah – a life lived based on the directions, advice and concepts of the Torah.

It is not enough to keep a Sefer Torah that he inherited from his father – meaning, one cannot live simply copying the way his parents lived, for that is a service of habit and quickly loses its meaning and passion.

A person must discover new ideas in the Torah, building on what he has learned from his parents and teachers. He must find new ways to apply Torah to his life.

A person who does this, writes a Sefer Torah of Life with his body and soul, with his wisdom and understanding, which is why Heaven will consider his life as if he accepted the Torah at Sinai. (Introduction to Responsa Degel Reuven, Volume I)

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