The Fire of Torah

Torah dedication ceremony

It’s freezing in DC. I know this because of the weather report. Luckily for me, I am in Los Angeles where it is not quite as cold. Please note: the torrential rain we are currently experiencing is not worth pining for. But just last week it was 80 degrees and sunny on the Venice Beach Boardwalk.  At the Shul on the Beach, where I am rabbi, it was even hotter.

Our shul celebrated a truly momentous event – the dedication of a new Torah scroll. It was warmer than 80 degrees because of the Torah dedication.

Our rabbis teach us that the Torah was given with fire at Sinai.  When one studies Torah or celebrates Torah with the joy that it truly deserves, the fire of Sinai is rekindled. The Talmud relates that when the great Rabbi Yonason ben Uziel studied Torah, if a bird would fly over his head, it would burst into flames.[1] Tosafos[2] explains that Rabbi Yonason ben Uziel studied with such joy and happiness, the fire of Sinai spontaneously ignited. The unfortunate bird was set ablaze by the fire of Torah that comes from the true joy of Torah.

Last week, on the Venice Boardwalk, hundreds of people experienced the warmth of Torah. They saw the joy expressed in our dancing and our reverence for the holiness of the Torah. It was even warmer than 80 degrees at the Shul on the Beach. It was warmed with the fire of Torah.

When it is dark and cold, a warm fire is the perfect antidote. Luckily for us, we can ignite the fire of Torah to keep us warm. The fire of Torah comes when we study with the same joy and fervor experienced at Sinai. If we are really proud of our Torah and it gives us happiness, it will provide its warmth for us, as well.

Stay warm!

Torah dedication ceremony

Eliyahu Fink is the rabbi at Pacific Jewish Center | The Shul on the Beach in Venice CA. He blogs at

[1] Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 28a.

[2] Collections of medieval commentary on the Talmud

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