There’s something special about strudel, isn’t there? For some, it conjures images of Viennese cafes, individual pots of coffee with fresh whipped cream on the side, silver spoons, china plates, and sunlight pouring through leaded glass. Or maybe it evokes the memory of your Bubbe’s kitchen, where the warm, moist air was filled with an aroma so intense you could taste it. Strudel ... such sweet perfection!

But when I think of strudel, I also see much in common with the ultimate in sweetness and perfection, our holy Torah. Yes, strudel and Torah. How is that possible, you ask? Let me explain.

It Has Many Layers

A strudel’s quality rises and falls on its many layers of pastry. The best ones are so thin you can see through them, fragile and yet sturdy, having the magical ability to crunch and melt in your mouth at the same time.

The Torah is also multi-layered, although unlike a strudel, its layers are endless. As one layer is comprehended, another rises up for you to sink your teeth into. Just as these delicate layers of pastry distinguish a strudel from a common coffee cake, the layers of Torah distinguish it from all other books.

The Best Part Is Within

As delicious as those pastry layers are, it’s the filling that’s the real prize. Whether it’s apple, cheese, raisins, cinnamon, nuts, apricots, or all of them in a delectable mishmash, when that filling hits your mouth your taste buds rejoice.

When you delve into the Torah, going deeper within the layers of peshat, drash, remez and sod, you uncover the ultimate prize of all: G‑d’s will and wisdom. It’s the Divine “filling” at the heart of the Torah. Not just your taste buds, but your whole being rejoices when you reach this level of understanding.

Credits: Alex Morley, Wikimedia (2012)
Credits: Alex Morley, Wikimedia (2012)

It’s Assembled With Great Care

Assembling a strudel takes patience, experience, and attention to detail. The dough must be rolled to just the right thickness. The filling must be added in just the right proportion. And rolling all those layers into its final form, while keeping the entire strudel intact, is as much an art as a skill.

Creating a Torah scroll requires experience, patience, and dedication to detail. The words are written, letter by letter, with the greatest care, by a highly trained scribe. There can be no mistakes. It must all hold together perfectly. And then it’s rolled into a scroll.

It’s Like a Whirlpool

The word strudel derives from the German word for “whirlpool” because of its characteristic swirls of filling and pastry. But more than that, like a whirlpool, strudel engulfs you in its complex taste and textures.

The Torah also engulfs you in its words and ideas. Like a whirlpool, it pulls you in, and it can make your head spin with its complexity and its beauty. There is nothing mindless about learning Torah.

Tanya explains that learning Torah is like “hugging” G‑d since your mind is entirely wrapped in His wisdom. Like the whirlpool, you’ve been pulled into His presence.

No Matter How Full You are, There’s Always Space for It

I can't imagine ever being too full for strudel. If it’s available, no matter what, I'm going to eat it. If I’m pressed for time, I’d skip the main course and go right to the strudel. My father used to say, “Life is short, eat dessert first!”

Torah is the ultimate dessert, it adds sweetness to every day. So go ahead and enjoy!