Tomorrow, October 1st, is Simchat Torah the day we Jews rejoice with Torah, having finished one complete reading of the text and beginning a new one. I would like to invite you all—Jews and Gentiles—to do something quite radical this Simchat Torah: commit yourself to actually reading the Torah (the Five Books of Moses) all the way through by next Simchat Torah.
Beginning with the Shabbos Bereshit, which happens to be October 2nd, I urge you to follow the traditional schedule of Torah reading. Don’t read the text with commentary. Avoid all gloss, whether scholarly or mystical. Just read the text (albeit in translation) and see what it says.
“But wait,” you might be thinking to yourself, “this isn’t radical at all. In fact it’s what Jews are supposed to do.” So let me add the radical part. As you read the text I want you to highlight those passages that you really believe in, or that teach you something about life that you find true and compelling. For example, you may not take the story of the creation of Adam’s consort literally, but you may find the teaching “it is not good for humans to be alone” (Genesis 2:18) quite compelling. So highlight that line.
By next Simchat Torah (October 21, 2011) you will have completed your reading, and can look back at your highlighted Torah and see just what meaning this book has for you.