Empty, by Conor Lawless. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.
This morning in the shower I was thinking about the book of aphorisms that I have been assembling over the past year. There are around a hundred or so, all original (I think,) and I began to wonder whether they sayings should be allowed to stand by themselves, or whether I should provide some short context or commentary on each.
Thinking this through, though, I considered my most recent addition. It its unedited form, it went:
“ ‘Don’t work hard, work smart’ is a false choice. It should be ‘work hard, but with intelligence and integrity.’ “
Accurate, I realized, but not particularly catchy. Clearly in need of word-smithing, and probably some commentary as well.
The word “commentary.” It got me thinking about how I might make my most recent aphorisms into a d’var Torah.
So I picked one, and tried.
And I couldn’t come up with a d’var.
So I picked another.
Still couldn’t come up with even a Torah reference.
Then I picked another. And another, And a third.
And hard as I tried, I failed.
It was not pretty. There wasn’t a single reference to anything in Tanach, much less Torah, that I could come up with after five tries. The problem, of course, was not with Torah, but with my ghastly low degree of Torah knowledge. I had never had my own inadequacy in that department hit me so hard.
I fought off the guilt, swapping it for resolve to establish and sustain an upward trajectory of Torah study.