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Revisiting Your Story 

10/17/2019 12:23:52 PM


Beth Schafer

“Hafochbah, hafochbah.” “Turn it, turn it again,” Rabbi Ben Bag-Bag wrote referring to the annual cycle of Torah. We are about to revisit the beginning of the Torah once again as we observe Simchat Torah this Sunday evening. I often ask B'nei Mitzvah students if they understand the basic concepts of algebra, which leads to a conversation about variables. I then share with them that reading Torah is a lot like algebra, in that the Torah is an absolute/fixed story, and we are the variables. 

Assuming that we change from year to year, the way we see and interpret Torah also changes. A new experience that we might have had may cause us to look at a story or character in a new light. We may be more critical of some of the people in the Torah and more compassionate with others. Our emotions may be triggered in ways they had not been before. Have you ever asked yourself who your favorite or least favorite character in the Torah is? Have you ever asked yourself who you are most like? Their stories are very much our stories. Revisiting them is not only an exercise in studying the Jewish narrative and history, it is a study of ourselves. 

Having just completed the spiritual work of self-reflection and renewal during our High Holy Days, why wait until next summer to review the year? The week-to-week touchpoints of Torah are the check-ins throughout the year that lead us back to our High Holy Day season. It is truly a circle that we travel round and round every year. Hopefully when we revisit each story in our sacred scriptures, it is not to the same point on the circle that we arrive, but rather to a point on a circle that we have spiraled upward to reach-gaining new understanding and perspective of our people’s story as well as our own.

Shabbat Shalom u’moadim l’simcha,


Sat, July 4 2020 12 Tammuz 5780