Posted by: jdiscover | August 6, 2009

Shalom blog world!


Shalom!  Well I guess I have finally made it into the 21st Century techie world! Welcome to the JDiscover Blog! I plan to use this blog to share my Torah thoughts, to make  comments on the weekly Torah portion and the news. Here I will try to reflect on the meaning and purpose of life using Jewish wisdom as my guide.  You are invited to comment on my postings, to ask questions and become part of the Torah, the Jewish learning I hope will take place in this virtual Beit Midrash (study hall).

I begin with a question – it is a Jewish blog after all! What is Torah? Is Torah the scroll, ink on parchment, we keep in the Ark? Is it that scroll (The Five Books of Moses), the rest of the Hebrew Bible, plus the discussions of our ancient rabbis; the Talmud? Is it the whole Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the thousands of commentaries written about the Bible and Talmud, plus the medieval legal codes? It is all of the above and so much more!

Torah is the collected wisdom of the Jewish people down through the ages, the questions, the search for answers, the discussion and the debate.  Torah is our history, our practice, our struggle, our failings and successes as a people. Torah is the living, ever expanding living well of our Jewish existence.  It is our spiritual nourishment, our Tree of Life, without it we do not survive. With Torah we thrive!

Torah was written with ink on parchment, it was passed on orally, then it was printed and today we share Torah in the blog-o-sphere!

This week’s Torah portion begins; “Vehaya eikev tishamun…” translated by JPS as “And if you obey…” A more literal translation focuses on the root of the 3rd word in the phrase which is “shma”  which means “listen” or “hearken”. I would therefore translate, “If you listen…God will love you and bless you.” May we listen here to each other, may we share Torah with each other and may God’s love and blessing be felt by each of us!


Responses

  1. Delighted to see this. It’s my first blog experience too!
    The broader and more expansive we can defineTorah, the better. It is both the concrete but more importantly, the ephemeral thread of truth that crosses all religions and disciplines. For me, when I see teachings/values of Torah echoed in other religious traditions/disciplines, eg. psychology–I believe I am truly witnessing Torah. One of my favorite inspirational books is edited by Chaim Stern in which for each parsha, he provides short little insights that come from different religions, literature, philosophers and I am always touched by the aboslute truths that cross all the traditions.

    • Thank you – Marsha. You are the first to comment on JDiscover! Your thoughts are beautiful! Defining Torah expansively follows in the teaching of Rambam (Maimonides) who defined Torah as any learning that draws one closer to understanding creation and the Creator. He included the study of medicine and even physics and math in his definition of Torah. The book you mention is one of my favorites as well. It is called Day By Day

  2. This is a first for many of us. What a wonderful idea. I look forward to reading this blog. Thank you for the book suggestion – inspiration is always welcome.

    I agree with Marsha that there are some ephemeral threads of truths that cross religions.
    I believe some of our societal woes come from the lack of value based education. Of course the problem when talking about a society is, whose values? As Jews, we have a wealth of wisdom (Torah) to help guide us, if only we would could all draw upon it.

    • Jodi, great to have you join in the discussion! I agree many woes come from the lack of value based education. It is certainly possible for a pluralistic society like our own to determine some common values that should be a part of our educational system. But let us remember that the most important education takes place in the home. Formal learning can only go so far. We grow the most from how we and those around us act. As our sages teach “the mitzvot refine a person.”

  3. Now I am the 3rd responder – and my first blogging experience as well! What strikes me is the number 3 – not as in my earlier storytelling life (as in 3 blind mice, 3 little pigs, 3 bears, 3 billy goats gruff – you get the idea!) nor as in baseball (oy – 3 strikes and I’m out!) but as in the 3rd book of Moses (Leviticus/Vayikra) – highlights of which (sacrifices and the holiness code for example) I have to teach my 5th grade students this fall! I am skeptical about having to teach something that seems so elusive to me and not at all concrete as compared to Genesis/Breisheet (which I explored two years ago with my class) and Exodus/Shemot (introduced last year). Perhaps Day By Day will give me some insights – thanks! And thanks, Rabbi Rose, for this opportunity!

  4. Marian – welcome aboard. I am glad you have joined in. Good luck with teaching Leviticus/VaYikrah. Traditionally VaYikrah was the first book of the Torah taught to children. The rabbis explained; “As the children are pure we will teach them the laws of purity.” Enjoy the innocence of the children and they will help you find meaning in the Torah.

  5. What a welcome event: a blog. (Can a blog get a bris…if it is male?)

    I sometimes think of Torah conceptually existing on at least two planes: the operational Torah (a combination of the various possibilities you define) and on a larger conceptual level, more like “Meta-Torah,” which becomes harder to define but sometimes is useful (for me) as a cohering idea.

    Look forward to the ongoing conversation.

  6. Shalom to Marc! It is nice to have another male voice in the mix.
    I find your idea of a Torah other than the operational Torah, a larger conceptual Torah or a Meta-Torah intriguing. Can you share some examples of this Meta-Torah? Where does its authority come from? How is it passed from generation to generation?

    Shabbat Shalom, David

  7. Shabbat Shalom Rabbi Rose…aka Abba!
    I look forward to ‘following’ (that’s the technical term you should be using, newbies) your blog, and participating in the learning of Torah.

  8. Thank you for your lift!


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