Moses received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua, and Joshua to the Elders, and the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets transmitted it to the Men of the Great Assembly. They said three things: 1. Be deliberate in judgment, 2. raise up many disciples and 3. make a fence for the Torah."
The boy was young Anakin who later became Darth Vader, the tip of the spear who singlehandedly destroyed the Jedi and lead the Empire to power -
Of course this is fiction and without it we wouldn’t have our favorite tale of Star Wars. But the lesson is strong, do not make exception to a rule that is there for a reason. The Jedi ignored their “Fence” around the Order. If we looked at this as a real world scenario, the Jedi Council’s decision had led to intergalactic war, the end to peace and prosperity, and the rise of an evil empire. This can be compared to the world powers placating Hitler in the 1930’s, ignoring what was clearly a sign of darkness to come. The world powers had treaties and international law in place to stop such a rising evil in Germany, but did not make delineable boundaries, a fence, around right and wrong.
This same lesson of Anakin being allowed to train to become a Jedi also reflects on the Men of the Great Assembly’s other lessons: Be deliberate in judgments and raise up many disciples. The Jedi Council same as the world powers of the 1930’s were not deliberate in their judgment. Their leniency led to war and destruction. They had a decision to make, and in both cases acquiesced to demands and not to the principles they were to decide by.
Do not take the example of young Anakin as saying one shouldn’t take risks in life, or that it’s too late to begin a new endeavor or even change one’s life. Just to be clear, one of the greatest Jewish sages ever, Rabbi Akiva, began learning at the age of 40 and is considered one of the most prolific scholars in Jewish history.
The lesson here is that you must adhere to the boundaries in place or create such boundaries if there aren’t. How can a person grow without knowing where not to go? We have boundaries on our fields of sport, we have fences in our own back yards; therefore, we should create boundaries in order not to lead us down a path of darkness.
A modern example of the ‘Fence around the Torah’ lesson is the 2008 financial crisis. There is a myriad of writings on the causes and how we got there which I am not arguing. I am not advocating for more regulation which can also be argued is why the crisis happened or not. But the premise is this; financiers were not given clear lines of play, and they went overboard and nearly destroyed the economy as we know it. The Jedi council made an exception to their rule and this lead to the destruction of the peaceful order holding the galaxy’s peace together.
So many preach to ignore the rules and boundaries in place, but first we must know them in order to test them. The sages counselled for a fence, because the basic principles of the Torah, or the law are essential for growth. And more importantly the fence is vital for us not to lead to darkness.