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.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
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This is an awesome idea!
Don't laugh at the question, I'm not exactly a religious scholar. The five books of the Torah are also in the Bible, correct? There are several translations of the Bible (not all in agreement). Are there other translations that are considered Torah and not Bible? Or will any old version of these 5 books found in a Bible do?
Will do :)
The Torah and the Five Books of Moses are the first five books of the Bible in any translation. The translation used in academic circles is the New Revised Standard Version. An interesting alternative is Matthew Fox's The Five Books of Moses by Soncino Press.
All translations are interpretations. It's fun to look at different translations to get different perspectives. In our torah study class, many of us use the Artscroll Stone Chumash because it has the Hebrew and much of the traditional commentary in footnotes. The Living Torah, translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, is another favorite - it has a completely different flavor from the Stone translation. Usually someone has a King James one, too, perhaps stolen from some hotel drawer :-), which gives the more traditional Christian view.
If you want to know what the torah portion is for any particular week, go to: http://urj.org/learning/torah/ or http://www.chabad.org/parshah/default_cdo/jewish/parshah.htm for a more traditional perspective.
If it weren't yuntif...
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