Learning within Judaism is more than simply the acquisition of information … it is a form of worship. We have nearly 3,000 years’ worth of texts, layers of conversations, all grappling with our most sacred Scripture. For us as Jews, learning is an essential part of our devotional lives. In addition to prayer, and righteous living, Judaism teaches a concept of תורה לשמה Torah Lishmah – the study of Torah for its own sake.
My friend and colleague, Rabbi Dr. Carl Kinbar, explains the important difference between study and learning from a Messianic Jewish perspective:
“Let me distinguish between learning and study. Study involves the acquisition and mastery of facts and their interconnections. Because followers of Yeshua are directed to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, our learning involves more than acquisition and mastery. It involves all four faculties—heart, mind, soul, and strength—and becomes for us a consuming act of love and worship. Learning is an embodied spiritual practice that enables us to cleave to God and one another.
Learning is worship. While this is no truer for Messianic Jews than for others, our years of involvement in Jewish life taught us that this view of learning is particularly Jewish. It has been carried forward by Jews for about two thousand years now. Sadly, it is not yet embedded in Messianic Jewish life, where learning is more like study, an acquiring of information (even revelation) that is necessary to walk closely with God—but not worship. The new Messianic Jewish learning insists that these writings of our people—the Tanakh, the Brit Hadashah (New Testament), midrash, Talmud, and more—are not valuable only for what they contain and describe but because they enable us to worship God specifically as Jews.”