- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On October 19, 2018
- 0 Comments
As we arrive to this week’s section of the Torah, we move from mythic truths to historic truths overflowing with stories of our ancestors. Last week in our Torah portion, images of Noah, the ark, the animals, and the flood filled our imaginations along with a tower built toward the heavens, though it was not meant to be since God interrupted their endeavor and dispersed the people through diverse language and lands.
But this week, we make a shift with the light shining on specific individuals, Abraham and Sarah, designated by God to go forth to birth a faith and a people. What we know of them is not historic fact, but pieces to a puzzle of understanding of where we came from and why. They form a revelatory symphony of information. But what do we do with what the text provides? Did it all happen as described for real?
We live in a time when truth has become “truthiness” and facts are mangled without respect. As a result, we wonder if we can trust any bit of information and have to ask from where it came and the intent of those who speak. Discernment is upon us now.
With good intent, this is actually good practice for a way to understand the historic truths passed down to us by the generations before us.
What do they have to teach and tell?
What did they understand? What are the truths of their lives? What was the context in which they lived? How did they view their world? How did those who wrote about them view their world? To ask and to see is to discover the texture.
The word, history, itself contains its intent: “his story” and “her story” provide a personal narrative within the communal framework.
We need to understand our past. Perhaps this is why we find in the book of Job:
Ask the generation past,
Study what their fathers and mothers have searched out
For we are of yesterday and know nothing
Our days on earth are a shadow.
Surely, they, our mothers and fathers, will teach you and tell you
Speaking out of their understanding. (Job 8:8-10)
Inherent in the Torah text is a pathway from the past into the future, a message handed down by those before us to teach, to tell, and to speak to us of an understanding that transcends time and space. But, we don’t receive it without questions. We study what our fathers and mothers searched out. It is an eternal sequence of inquiry.
Abraham and Sarah received the historic call to enter “his and her story” into history. Now the Torah calls us to delve into their lives and reveal new truths for us ready to be discovered.
Qabbalat Shabbat begins at 6:00 p.m.! Live stream HERE. Torah study begins at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow with a short service followed by a lively discussion.
I look forward to your thoughts and reflections, please send them to me directly HERE.