IT’S THE ENDLESS INTELLECTUAL PUZZLE. It’s that Hebrew writing closely resembles Klingonese (well, it does; come to think of it, so does some of the sentiment). It’s belonging to the 3,000-year-old Permanent Floating Book Club. It’s the spectra, vagaries and levels of meaning. It’s the idea of “seventy faces of Torah,” meaning that each word (even letter!) can be looked at in multiple ways. It’s engaging with the minds of long-dead people who live on in your study. It’s the level playing field (“Only a little is all anyone knows of Torah,” quoth the greybeard rabbi). It’s seeing how far the Sages can stretch a metaphor. It’s the four worlds of interpretation: literal, allegorical, homiletical, mystical. It’s the slow accumulation of vocabulary. It’s the slow accumulation of understanding. It’s that you can look at the same verse / paragraph / chapter / pericope a hundred times before it makes perfect sense. It’s the feeling that you’re part of something very old and very deep. It’s the occasional glimpse of that-which-some-people-call-G?d peeking at you from between the letters. It’s that there’s no One True Truth about it. It’s seeing the light go on in the eyes of those with whom you study. (It’s also feeling the light go off in your own.) It’s the broad tangents. And it’s that even after more than 20 years of patient study, it still surprises me.