If one read and reviewed his studies but did not serve an apprenticeship to
scholars, he remains unlearned (Berachos 47b).
We can learn more about tennis by seeing a pro in action than by reading a
book about how to play good tennis. Book learning certainly has value, but
a professional performance is much more impressive.
One of the mitzvos the Torah lists is to say Shema Yisrael twice daily. I
had learned about the proper kavanah (concentration) needed when saying the
and I had heard lectures on the subject regarding the intensity of
meditation required. One day, I attended the vasikin minyan (sunrise
at the Kotel (the Western Wall), and I heard the Shema being recited the way
it should be said. All that I had read and heard beforehand now became
and took on new meaning.
If you have the opportunity to watch any expert performing in his or her
field, do so. Watch a tzaddik pray, a matriarch light the Shabbos candles,
a scholar learning Torah. These indelible experiences can give life and
spirit to your own actions and convert the knowledge you have accumulated
book learning into more meaningful experiences.
The Torah states that at Sinai, the entire nation saw the sounds (Exodus
20:15). Many commentaries ask how sounds can be seen. Perhaps the Torah is
that the Israelite observed how their leader Moses acted, and so were able
to see that which they had previously heard.
Today I shall …
…. try to reinforce those character traits that I know are correct by
observing how good people implement them.