September 29, 2021
Last night at our Simchat Torah celebration, we read the last three verses of the Torah, from the Book of Devarim (Deuteronomy), and then we immediately began again by reading the first three verses from Sefer Bereishit (Genesis).
The end gives rise to the beginning and the beginning leads us to the end.
We encounter these same stories from the Torah year after year. And yet, there is always a new way to turn the words, the phrases, the ideas.
The challenge is to listen to Torah in a new way. We open ourselves to these ancient stories, these familiar narratives, but we come to them anew. Let Torah speak to us as we are now, today--not who we were before.
What does Torah have to teach me this year? The same characters and landscapes offer additional layers previously unknown. Now that we are who we are right now, a different perspective can reveal itself.
Here’s an interesting challenge I picked up from a colleague. Each year, she reads all of Torah from a particular perspective. She picks something specific like Social Justice, community, vocation and purpose. In honor of the Shmitah year, I am reading through the lens of sacred rest. What can each week’s parasha teach me about honoring a cycle of 7, wherein a period of activity, productivity, creativity (6 days or 6 years) is followed by a period of stillness, quiet, rest, fallowness (1 day or 1 year). In some parshyiot, the message will be obvious. In others, the meaning is harder to discern. We’ll have to dig deeper and “Hafok ba, v’hafok ba--turn it and turn it, for everything is in it.”
As we walk from the end to the beginning together, may we open ourselves to Torah’s wisdom and allow it’s eternal truths to guide us in 5782.