There's a reason that my last couple of posts have related to the subject of laining [Torah reading] - beyond the obvious fact that we just completed the annual laining cycle on Simchas Torah. This subject has been on my mind this week for a more personal reason as well.
There's a time honored custom known as "Shnayim Mikra VeEchod Targum" - to read through the Torah portion each week, twice in the Hebrew original and once in translation. I remember being pretty conscientious about doing this, way back in my high school days. Probably apart from any religious considerations, it was something we were assigned, and I was much too much of a goody-goody in those days to shirk any such scholastic duty.
Sadly, I admit that I didn't maintain my diligence very long. In fact, by fairly soon after high school, I had almost completely abandoned this weekly parsha review. I have no excuse for this, other than lack of determination and motivation. There was always something else to do. I constantly felt too busy, too stressed out, too tired, or most often, all three at once.
Then, a few years ago, when Aaron was in 10th or 11th grade, I noticed that he had started taking care to learn Shnayim Mikra VeEchod Targum each week. I don't doubt that his rabbeim mandated it just as mine had; I even vaguely remember him once saying something about it earning him extra points on his weekly parsha quiz. But whatever the initial motivation, I do know he was as meticulous and consistent about this weekly study, as he always was about everything that he considered to be his responsibility.
Aaron only merited to make it part way through his last Torah cycle. The final parsha he reviewed - probably from his hospital bed - was Emor, somewhat past the center of Vayikra, the middle book of the Torah. From the standpoint of rov, the halachik concept of majority, I guess you could say he was yotze [fulfilled] that cycle. But somehow, with all the many opportunities that he lost by leaving us so young, this one loomed unusually large for me, felt disproportionately bitter. I guess on some level, I was viewing Aaron's diligence in this area as his way of bettering my example, carrying on what I had so long neglected.
So when the next cycle commenced, a year ago this week, I was determined that one of the things I would do in Aaron's memory, one that would mean the most to me on a personal level, would be to re-commit to maintaining the Shnayim Mikra VeEchod Targum practice. It was difficult at first, making time week after week for what I had so long ignored. But I kept at it. And this Shabbos, on the day before Simchas Torah, I completed the cycle. My first in much too long a time. My first, but not, I both resolve and pray, my last.
Aaron, I made it. Thanks for being my encouragement. I'll try to keep it up, as I know you would have.