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Books of Torah as Chapters of our Lives

10/13/2022 07:55:22 AM


Beth Schafer

We are just a few days away from Simchat Torah, when we end and begin our annual cycle of reading Torah. At the end of Deuteronomy, we find Moses atop Mt. Nebo where he will send his beloved people into the Promised Land with blessing before dying. The scene ends and we plunge into darkness and experience the story of Creation once again.

This leap from physical heights to spiritual depths got me thinking about how each book of Torah, as stand-alone episodes in a multivolume tome, is a reflection of our life’s journey. Genesis represents our birth and foundational family, we begin to develop a sense of self and form a relationship with God. Exodus is like our teenage years, where we (not always gracefully) gain our freedom and begin to self-actualize. Leviticus has the most commandments of any of the books of Torah, once we are free, we start to learn the rules of how to live, not unlike our early adult years. The Book of Numbers takes place in the desert where we truly confront our fears, test leadership, and start to understand the power of good and evil, of sickness and health, of loyalty and disloyalty. Most of our adult years are spent in the desert, a place where we try to find our way and find ourselves. This leaves us at Deuteronomy, the final reflection of the plight of the Jewish people told by Moses atop Mt. Nebo. This book is actually not one we write for ourselves at all, for it will be written by those who come after us. Just as Moses could not have transcribed the narration of his own death when God revealed the Torah to him atop Mt. Sinai, the story of our lives will be told by others after our days on earth are over.

Every time we cycle through the Torah we experience life itself. We are living in and through each of the sacred books. As we begin with Creation once more, let us look at it as an opportunity to renew, to engage with our personal narrative and that of our people. I wish you a year of wonderful discovery and growth.

Shabbat Shalom,


Sat, December 10 2022 16 Kislev 5783