"Please Hashem, sweeten the words of Your Torah in our mouth and in the mouths of Your nation... -from morning brachos in the siddur
Everyone knows a kid's favorite course is dessert. Mine too. And not, as one might think, because I look forward to any of the yummy delicacies waiting in the kitchen for their grand entrance. No, it is the....
...it is the words of Torah I crave after all my efforts in the kitchen have been enjoyed.
By the last course, I can really relax and enjoy what will certainly be the sweetest part of the meal: the d’var Torah, tasty thought from our holy Torah.
In the morning brachos we pray that learning Torah will be "sweet in our mouths." Why do we have to ask for this? We do not ask Hashem before we take challah, or perform any other mitzvah that He please make it enjoyable. But learning Torah is unique; it is meant to enter our souls and refine us. In order to integrate anything we learn, something about it must be enjoyable.
Sometimes it is difficult to enjoy learning. It is hard to get motivated, the concepts are challenging. Rabbi Shimon Schwab compares learning Torah to one who someone who jumps into a pool of cold water. He is at first reluctant, then uncomfortable and finally wonderfully refreshed.
Similarly, we encounter obstacles within our nature, and in the nature of learning that we want to overcome so that we can draw the sweet taste of Torah into our lives. If we desire it, then we are motivated to jump in again and again.
Our Sages instituted this plea into the morning prayer service before we begin to learn because we need Heavenly help to overcome distractions and make the Torah the object of our desire. Many a Torah scholar attributed their success to their own prayer or the heartfelt prayers of their parents.
Our family members need to see that we care that they enjoy learning. We slip then treats and praise their effort. But we have to pray, too. We pray that the words of Torah are sweet to us as well as to our husbands and children. We pray they will desire it and be willing to jump in again and again in spite of the difficulties.
When a child begins the alef-bet, the Hebrew alphabet, the teacher drips honey onto the letters, then the child traces them with a tiny finger and licks off the honey. This is so his learning is sweet from the beginning.
In the Simchas Torah dance of the elderly Rosh HaYeshivah, HaRav Isser Zalmen Meltzer, only small children were invited to join his inner circle. With great fervor the holy scholar led these new talmidim in passionate dancing with the Torah scrolls. Then, the Rav lovingly recited the alef bet in a familiar niggun, Chassidic tune, and the children vivaciously repeated it after him.
The joy of Torah filled the circle and shined in the aged Gadol’s face, who danced and sang until he had exhausted his limited resource of energy. Because of the loving joy the Rav had in dancing and singing the very letters of the Torah— in spite of the enormous physical challenge, the sweetness of Torah learning was imprinted upon these newest students right from the beginning.
The taste of Torah can be sweet to every single Jew. The Shabbos meal is the opportune time to indulge. Just as you plan a meal your family and guests will enjoy, be sure the Torah shared is appropriate for the ages and experience of those present. Discussing the Torah portion over sweet nibbles, relating an idea we heard in a Torah class, telling stories of Gedolim and enjoying the midrashim your child learns in school says, "Torah is sweet from every mouth."
A luscious dessert is most desirable, but it's essence is ephemeral. Learning with desire is eternal. It makes the Torah live within us, strengthens our love for Hashem and gives us the tools to live a full and rewarding life...all this, and yet, not one calorie to worry about.
May the sweetness of Torah permeate your home and entice all who enter to taste; for Torah study is our royal legacy- the secret to the survival of the Jewish People. You may want to check out this delicious list of resources for learning Torah online.