Pirke Avot 4:8

Rabbi Yose says:

Whoever honors the Torah is himself honored by people;

Whoever disgraces the Torah is himself disgraced by people.

Rabbi Yose bar Chalafta was a student of Rabbi Akiva, writing and teaching in the 75 to 100 CE time period.  His ordination took place in secret since the Romans had outlawed them in the wake of the Jewish rebellion in 70.

How do we honor the Torah / Bible / Tradition?

On the simplest terms we take care with the physical representation that we have in front of us – treating it with care, handling it gently and with respect.   Hence, in the synagogue, the Torah scroll is covered and crowned, is presented with solemnity and is not even directly handled when possible.  A Torah scroll is handwritten and costly – but the care with which it is handled is more due to its very nature as a sacred object.  In Catholic tradition the Book of the Gospels (used at mass) is handled only by deacons and priests, is kissed when read from, and given a place of honor when resting.  It is an expensive book though not anywhere nearly as expensive as the Torah scroll.

Those who honor the physical representations are conscious of the religious traditions which surround them and respect those traditions – something that would keep them in good standing in the larger community and (we believe) with the LORD.  Likewise, those who would NOT respect those traditions or deliberately flaunt them would be in poor standing amongst those people who value them.

But this is purely at the simplistic level.

We honor the Torah / Bible / Tradition when we value the study of it, the learning of it, the teaching and sharing of it, and the living of the teachings found in it and through it.

We honor Torah / Bible / Tradition when we take it seriously.  When we resist any temptation to simply bypass what is difficult or to ignore those things which go against our own will and opinion.

Those who honor the Torah / Bible / Tradition by living by its precepts and values will be honored – they are serious about their faith and about the struggle to be a good and loving person.  Those who don’t – aren’t.

psalm 119 a

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