I heard the following story in the name of R’ Shimshon Pincus z’l.
Rabbi Boruch Adler* was asked to give a shiur to a mixed group of people, comprised of both scholars and unlettered individuals. He was forewarned that he should make sure to explain and translate words or concepts that might be foreign to anyone. Throughout his derasha he made every effort to explain each and every word, at times expounding on concepts that to him were fundamental. He made no assumptions, however, and explained everything to the best of his ability.
After his speech was completed, one of those who attended came up to Rav Adler with a broad smile on his face. As they began to speak it became evident that he was one of the less learned of the group.
“Rabbi,” the man said, “I just want you to know that I truly appreciated how you made such a great effort to explain all of those lofty concepts.”
Rabbi Adler nodded and smiled.
The man continued and said, “I believe that I really understood the ideas you were conveying in your speech, and I benefitted each time you translated the words from Hebrew in to English. There was just one word that you said a few times which you didn’t translate.”
“What was that,” asked Rav Adler, looking slightly worried.
The man replied, “I didn’t know what you meant when you kept saying ‘Hakadosh Baruch Hu.'”
If Hakadosh Baruch Hu – God – is missing from the shiur, you’ve missed the whole point!
We can wake up every day, learn the daf yomi, put on our tallis and tefillin to daven, run to do chesed, be careful about saying Lashon Hara, and make sure to say Amen to the berachos that our friends say out loud. But if the essential ingredient is missing – if we are lacking the connection to Hashem – we’ve missed the boat!