Over three thousand years ago, the thunder crashed, the mountain smoked and the sound of the shofar rose higher and higher, as we received the Torah at Sinai.

According to the Talmud,1 G‑d says, “Whoever busies himself (osek) with Torah and with charity, and prays with the congregation, I consider it for him as if he had redeemed Me and My sons from amongst the nations of the world.” Why is such an outstanding expression of merit and virtue accorded to someone who “busies himself with Torah”? Isn’t Torah study the plain duty of every Jew? Isn’t this what each of us accepted and pledged ourselves to at Sinai?

But the secret lies in the word “busies himself.” Torah study is indeed the duty of every person, but special merit is reserved for one whose preoccupation with Torah learning, with charity and with prayer is like that of the businessman with his business.

The hired worker always keeps an eye on the clock. When the hours of his employment are over, he leaves the affairs and the worries of the business behind and goes home. Not so the businessman. Even while he sits at the supper table, although he seems to be eating and drinking like everyone else—a careful look at his facial expression, at the thoughtfulness in his eyes, reveals that the affairs of his business are very much on his mind. And although the business may be doing very well, there is always room for improvement! Even when he goes to sleep, the thoughts that were uppermost on his mind all day find expression in his dreams, which center on his business.

“Whoever busies himself with Torah, with charity . . .”

The morning Torah study session may be over, but Torah is his business, and he cannot leave it completely behind. He may seem to be eating and drinking like another, but his mind is still absorbed in the passage of Torah he studied earlier. He may already have fulfilled his obligation of giving charity by donating at least a tenth of his income to charity, but charity is his business; he is constantly looking for someone in need of a favor or in need of financial assistance, so that he can help them. With these thoughts he goes to sleep, and around them his dreams revolve.

When a person becomes a “Torah businessman,” then, G‑d considers him as meritorious as if he had redeemed the shechinah (G‑d’s spirit) from exile.2