February 2019 was the last time we opened the curtains of our ark, walked a Torah around the sanctuary, scrolled it to the weekly parshah, responded to the aliyah, listened to its words chanted in Hebrew and interpreted in English, and learned how those ancient words applied to us today. Won’t it be wonderful when we can join together and enjoy that experience once again!
Our Torahs are calling to us, but in the meantime, we can still read the sacred words in our bibles or on line (chanting included). We can find interesting commentaries at urj.org or chabad.org, or write our own commentaries, even if they’re only in our heads. A sentence or even just one or two words can often give us a starting point to think about how that week’s parshah relates to us as individuals.
Our Torahs are calling to us to remind us that the celebration of Shavuot, Z’mon Maton Toratenu, the time of the giving of the Torah, will be here soon. Think about how you felt when you read from or held a Torah, or how you felt when you led a service and presented a D’var Torah. Think about the meaning of Ruth F. Brin’s poem on the next page. Think about our Temple Beth Sholom Torahs …they are calling to us.
“Our Torah is the great symbol of Jewish life today, as it has been for more than two thousand years.
At first there was the menorah, the Ark of the Covenant, and then the Temple.
But before the Second Temple was built, the reading of the Torah became the great symbolic act of Jewish unity.
Medieval Jews honored the Torah with a rich cover and a crown, as they had learned to honor royalty.
Modern Jews, like our ancestors, stand in its presence and treat it with awe, a holy object.
It is a Tree of life we say, therefore identifying it with the seven-branched menorah that stood in the tabernacle and the Temple.
It contains the Law of Moses, we say, identifying it with the Tablets of the Covenant given on Mount Sinai.
Torah is the life and the length of our days, we say, identifying it with the Temple, the center of Jewish life in the past, and proclaiming it the center of Jewish life today for ourselves and our people.
We stand in awe of these scrolls, for they have preserved us as we have preserved them. They are potent and they are dangerous:
Dangerous if we treat them like icons, keep the scrolls rolled and look at the jeweled embroidery, kiss the mantle and forget the words.”
Dangerous even if we read the words and accept them as written… without understanding, without interpretation, without love.
Potent to make us seek eternal values in our temporary lives; potent to set our minds and souls on the search for God.