Editors’ note: The following article by Dovid Pearlman (‘19) is adapted from “A Minute Vort 2” by Rabbi Eli Scheller.
In Parashat VaYeilech (31:19) the Torah writes “Ve’Atah Kitvu Lachem Et HaShirah HaZot VeLamdah Et Benei Yisrael”, “And now, write for yourselves this song, and teach it to the Children of Israel.” The Chachamim learn from this Pasuk that every Jew is obligated write his own Sefer Torah. Let us explore this topic further through the use of a parable.
Ben was part of a college basketball team and was given instructions to practice a minimum of two hours every day. He did not own a basketball, but he figured that he could borrow his neighbor's ball. However, he was too lazy to go to the neighbor to get the ball, and therefore rarely practiced. Consequently, his performance on the court was lacking.
Hashem, like the coach, wants us to study the holy Torah at every available opportunity. We are commanded to write our own Sefer Torah so that we always have one on hand. Even though one is allowed to borrow a Torah from a neighbor, with such an attitude, one may come to lose his drive to study.
The constant study of Torah is crucial to one's spiritual growth. The Torah gives one the ability to overcome his instincts and harmful desires. Rav Shmuel Berenbaum zt’I was once walking down the street and stopped by a certain store. A sign had been placed on the storefront: “Closed Due to Death.” Rav Shmuel focused on the sign for a couple of moments, and subsequently began to cry. His students asked him if he knew the owner. He replied at first with a simple “No.” He then went on to explain: "Every time I passed this store, whether it was early in the morning, or late at night, raining or snowing, the man was inside working. Nothing could prevent him from running his business. The only thing that held him back was death! When I die I want that sign on my Gemara: ‘Closed Due to Death!’"
I view the Pasuk in a less literal sense: a Jew should make the Torah his or her own. Judaism and learning should be, to an extent, personal. How does one connect with Tefillah? How does one connect with the week’s Parashah? How and when does one set aside time for learning? Personal growth is achieved through the establishment of consistent values and goals. Write for yourself this song, and live it every day.