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The Human Ideal of Being a Walker

By: Rabbi Barak Bar-Chaim

The Torah begins Parshat Bechukotai with the following verse ‘If you walk in My statutes and guard My commandments and perform them; then I will provide your rains in their time…’ Simply put ‘If you keep My commandments I will bless you…’

Rashi, bothered by the meaning of the expression ‘If you walk in My ways’ explains this expression to mean: If you toil in the study of Torah. The Torah demands us to work hard and diligently in the pursuit of God’s true intention and essential teaching. The Maharal of Prague questions how the expression ‘If you walk in My ways’ expresses the idea of toiling in Torah study?

His answer is profound. The key is in understanding the philosophical symbolism of walking and standing. Standing implies maintaining ones position, remaining in ones place and maintaining the status quo. Walking on the other hand implies moving forwards, challenging, growing and developing. The Prophets refer to the Angels as ‘the standing ones’ because an Angel has no possibility of growth, development and progress. Human beings on the other hand are referred to as ‘walkers.’ We use our faculty of free will to move, grow, change and challenge ourselves to reach greater heights.

Superficial Torah study leaves us standing in the same place, with little progress – spiritual stagnation. Studying with depth challenges us to understand, grow and change. Walking in God’s statutes implies a vibrant, growing, challenging religious experience. The words ‘If you walk in My ways’ express God’s desire for us to be ‘walkers.’ We can all accomplish this on our own level by questioning, researching and trying to understand the Torah on a deeper level with diligence.

Let us aspire to the human ideal of being a ‘walker.’