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Internalizing Torah: Chief Rabbi David Lau Visits LCM

Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau Addresses Students at the Lander Colleges

May 14, 2014

Addressing the students at LCM, Chief Rabbi Lau discussed two different categories of mitzvos: specific commandments—keeping kosher or prohibiting theft, for example—and mitzvos less clearly defined, such as learning Torah or kedoshim tihiyu, you shall be holy. Although the Torah gives guidelines, how those mitzvos, which do not depend on a set time or place, are observed largely depends on the individual, according to Chief Rabbi Lau.

“We must learn Torah every second of every day,” he said. “But we need to eat so we need a parnassah. We need to rest so we go to sleep. And we need to spend time with our families. For that reason Torah is a k’lal (general mitzvah) and it depends on us to internalize Torah and make it part of our lives,” even at times when one cannot study.

As an example, Chief Rabbi Lau cited the mitzvah of tefilin. Every morning he learns Daf Yomi before davening and he said there are only two days a year when he doesn’t have to be reminded to put on his tefilin and prepare for davening: The days following Pesach and Simchat Torah, after the tefilin have not been worn for a week. The mitzvah of tefilin is such an important part of his life, he said, that it’s on his mind even during those times when he can’t wear them.

“It’s not the same davening without tefilin. And after a week without tefilin, I miss it.”

Rabbi Doniel Lander, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Ohr Hachaim anc Chancellor of Touro College, welcomed Chief Rabbi Lau and talked about the longtime friendship between both families. Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau gave the keynote address at a 2007 gala honoring Rabbi Lander’s father, Touro founder Dr. Bernard Lander, z”tl, and he also delivered a lecture commemorating Dr. Lander’s first yahrzeit in 2011.

Martin Oliner, the mayor of Lawrence, N.Y. and a member of the Touro College Board of Trustees who was heavily involved in arranging the visit to the Lander Colleges, introduced Chief Rabbi Lau and said that he was certain Dr. Lander would have been proud to see the chief rabbi addressing the talmidim.