Yes, it’s true. Several years ago, when I was at a Jewish parent function, someone asked me what I like to do for fun, and without thinking I smiled brightly and answered, “Torah study.” Of course I quickly realized by the person’s reaction that perhaps “shopping” or “going out to the movies” would have been a more expected and appropriate response. But in all honesty, at the time when I heard the word “fun,” I immediately equated it with happiness. And to me, Torah, with all the twists and turns it feeds my mind, and all the “aha!” moments of life and self-discovery that it offers me, is very much a source for happiness.

My mind and spirit had a desire to expand, so I made time to do one thing solely for myselfWhen my two young sons grew older and less dependent on me, I realized that between work and managing a home, there was a part of me that craved something additional. Something I knew I possessed but felt was not being cultivated sufficiently. My mind and spirit had a desire to expand, so I made time to do one thing solely for myself—I decided to attend Torah class every Tuesday evening.

The first night I went I felt unusually quiet, and absorbed everything everyone had to say, including the rabbi giving the class. We were supposed to go through several pages of the weekly Torah portion, but instead the class stayed on one paragraph. The amount of life meaning and analysis that was found in one Torah passage was profound. I left the class an hour and half later feeling as though a door to my soul had been opened wide, and this felt exciting and uplifting—and, yes, fun.

Every class after that had a different feel to it, even with the same people attending. Sometimes the class broke out in spontaneous laughter about something humorous that someone offered in connecting a personal life incident to Torah. And at other times, when different individuals held passionately opposing views on a Torah passage, the rabbi would smile widely and respond, “Thank G‑d, you are all correct!” going on to explain how different meanings from Torah can be applied to each individual with his own different life experiences and circumstances.

And still there were other times, when the class carried a deeply somber feel that moved the emotions and inspired a deep compassion for life’s challenges, as we recalled the hardships of our history as Jews that still exist to this very day. Nevertheless, each connection I experienced with Torah left me feeling fully alive, giving way to a new definition of “fun” that blossomed for me—all from the start of one Torah class . . .

Through it all, I experienced my own ups and downs in life. Only this time, with my deep-rooted bond to Torah, the “downs” were no longer downs. Whereas easy, happy moments in life felt like free gifts offered, the seemingly low times held a much greater depth and reward. Through utilizing the wisdom of Torah in my own life, any challenges I faced no longer felt like “problems.” Instead, these challenges became an opportunity for me to live as our patriarchs did—with a passionate drive to take the seemingly imperfect and find the truth of good in it, to give of myself with complete joy and trust that I will become better for it. And I have . . .

Whereas easy, happy moments in life felt like free gifts offered, the seemingly low times held a much greater depth and rewardSo of course, it is no surprise when I say that Shavuot, the holiday commemorating the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai (when we learn Torah all night and then listen in the morning to the reading of the Ten Commandments), has always been a favorite holiday of mine. I remember how much more significant Passover came to mean for me when I understood the reason G‑d freed us. It wasn’t just that He finally let us free so that we could do whatever we felt like doing. G‑d freed us with a purpose. When we left Egypt as slaves, we had yet to leave our slave mentality completely behind us. We might have left physically, but it took time before G‑d was able to take Egypt out of us. Yet deep inside, our core being held a spark—a spark of innocence that was what instinctively allowed us to abandon reason and leave Egypt as quickly as possible. The story of Exodus, with the destruction of Egypt and our physical departure, is the first part of the story of our journey towards freedom. Shavuot is the second part—utilizing our inner spark as the source for our freedom, through receiving the Torah from G‑d.

On Passover, we try to connect to all the things in life that hold our inner spark captive. We search inside of ourselves to see where we still respond to life with the slave mindset—whether it be slaves to our cell phone, computer, television set, work, or certain self-destructive habits. This awareness prepares us for the second part of our freedom, when we receive the gift of the Torah from G‑d. Liberating ourselves from our personal limitations, we are now free and ready to accept living life with purpose. So after Passover, as we anticipate Shavuot, we can now switch from the elimination of the negative in our life to the opportunities for the positive. Now, instead of asking questions about our life, we can focus on living the answers to those questions.

On Shavuot, G‑d gave us Torah so that we can experience the kind of freedom that actualizes our every thought, response, behavior and emotion at its highest potential, so that our inner spark shines freely from the inside out, with no limit on who or what it can touch. So that sacred times are not something we need to wait for, like a special occasion. With Torah, sacred moments are constant and never-ending.

Now, instead of asking questions about our life, we can focus on living the answers to those questionsThe day of Shavuot is said to be the day G‑d and the Jewish people united in marriage. When we are blessed to find our own soulmate, the first thing we long to do is to give to one another, the instinct that underlies true love. And this is what G‑d did for us. He gave to us. With Torah, He offers us a way to forever refine our character; to bring every moment of our existence a greater purpose, even in the midst of challenge; and in doing so, to find our source for lasting happiness. And for me, somehow . . . a new definition of “fun.”