A person who lives to be, say, 70, will have finished a Torah book 350 times (or maybe a few less since the view of Pir’kei Avot, at the end of chapter 5, is that Torah study begins at the age of five). If we say then that our 70-year-old has gone through the Torah 65 times it is a highly impressive record. But there is a Jewish story that posits a different criterion.
A few days before Rosh HaShanah, a cantor was asked by the rabbi what he was doing with his time. “Rabbi,” came the answer, “It’s close to Rosh HaShanah; I’m going through the Machzor!” “Wonderful,” replied the rabbi, “but is the Machzor going through you?”
What this means for our 70-year-old is not that the important thing is how many times he has gone through the Torah, but how many times the Torah has gone through him.
Has the Torah entered his being, his thinking, his way of living? Has the Torah made a difference to who he is and how he lives? Would he have been the same person without the Torah?
That’s what we should be asking ourselves this week as we conclude Vayyikra.