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It's not rocket science. It's Torah.

09/25/2019 09:36:46 PM

Sep25

The Talmud teaches that Torah is black fire on white fire. The written text is black fire. Often, the meaning is hidden in white fire - our interpretation of that text. Our interpretive dance with Torah makes the experience of Torah wonderfully rich.

Sometimes, the words mean precisely what they say. Paraphrasing this week’s parasha, Nitzavim, Moses tells the Israelites, “God’s commandments are really not so difficult to understand. They are not in heaven, they are not even far across the sea. God’s commandments are already in your mouths and on your hearts. I’ll remind you what God wants - for us to show our love of God by walking on God’s path.”

Torah begins with the human community created b’tzelem elohim, “in the image of God.” Loving God and walking on God’s path is nothing less than loving every member of the community. In our hearts, we already know that. We are expected to show each other compassion, treating each other with dignity. But we are a creation that is quick to forget the already learned lesson.

If God’s expectation is so direct, why does the world feel so untethered? One hundred years ago, Yeats wrote of an identical world, “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world / The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned / The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity."

Every week, Shabbat commands us to take a deep, purifying breath and remember God’s expectations. Love yourself, unconditionally. Love your neighbor, unconditionally. Love the stranger, unconditionally. Love the world, unconditionally. Look at the world and act in the world from a place of unconditional love. Love with the power of God, in whose image we were each created. It’s not rocket science. It’s Torah..

Josh Conescu is a teacher at our SHACHARIT program and a Jewish educator.

Sun, November 17 2019 19 Cheshvan 5780