Over the past decade I have spent a lot of time discovering what it means to follow Torah. We all know that the essense of the Law is love: Love God with all your being, and love your neighbor as yourself. I have tried to learn how that applies to waking up in the morning, to eating lunch, to watching television, and to building relationships.
I can follow all the rules in the world and still not really live Torah. I know people who don’t give a rats ass about whether or not they should eat a seafood salad, but who follow Torah much more closely than I do. The couple who give all their time for the spiritual health of murderers and thieves, the man who volunteers day after day to serve hot meals at the Rescue Mission, the woman who spends her afternoons teaching art to neglected and hard-to-teach children, the child who saves his allowance all year to buy Christmas presents for everyone but himself.
For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man studying his natural face in a mirror. For he studied himself and went his way, and immediately he forgot what he was like. But whoever looks into the perfect Law of liberty and continues in it, he is not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work. This one shall be blessed in his doing. If anyone thinks to be religious among you, yet does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit orphans and widows in their afflictions, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world….If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and if one of you says to them, Go in peace, be warmed and filled, but you do not give them those things which are needful to the body, what good is it?
-James, the Just