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Torah from Sinai 

10/05/2023 09:52:26 AM


Rabbi Scott Hausman-Weiss

Years ago, a rabbi friend of mine, stepped even farther outside the box than me.  He founded an organization called, “Religion Outside the Box,” and his most recent article was focused on spending Yom Kippur in a tent in his backyard, channeling the vibrations of the natural world and centering upon his place within it all.  (Clearly, he didn’t do this in Houston!)  But he also specifically focused his article on challenging rabbis, who continue to “teach” that the Torah comes directly “from God to Sinai to Moses to the Jewish people.”  Yes, he’s always been a little controversial, and I have always loved that about him.  Because he makes me think, which, I believe, is exactly what the counter-intuitiveness of the Torah and tradition, are often meant to challenge us to do.  

You know that part of the Torah service, towards the end when someone lifts the Torah and everyone sings, “V’zot haTorah asher sam Moshe lifnei b’nei Yisrael, al-pi Adonai b’yad Moshe.”  What we are saying with those words is, “This is the Torah which Moses placed before the people of Israel, God’s word through the hand of Moses.”  Now far be it from me to be a rabbi who insists on the literal truth of these words any more than the notion that mezuzahs actually protect our homes, healing prayers actually cause curing to take place, or that despite any archeological or historical evidence that there was no mass migration of former slaves from Egypt that came about as the result of a supernatural imposition of 10 plagues on the Egyptian people, that the Exodus is literally true.  But that’s exactly what makes our tradition so fantastic.

Torah is poetry and it is meant to be read as such.  It is not, nor was it ever meant to be a historical document that established how the world actually came into being, how the Jewish people actually were founded, or why it is that our tradition proscribes our enjoying a chicken parm sandwich.  It is and has always been a dream, an artistic endeavor, an exploration of the soulfulness of human beings and the ways in which we are challenged every day to navigate the world with our best selves.

Starting a week from today, Thursday, October 12, I will launch a brand-new course entitled, Tour de Torah.  Over the course of five weeks on Thursday evenings from 6:30 PM to 8 PM, I will teach one session on each of the Torah (“The Five Books of Moses”).  

If you sign up and join us, you will leave each session with an inspired and deeper understanding of the flow of each sacred book: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. To me, the myth that the Torah was given by God to Moses to us, stands as powerfully true, precisely because I do not believe that it happened. Rather, it’s something that happens… every time we open to the complicating mysteries of this text that continue to speak to us powerfully as we live our lives.  

Please join me at First UU, starting next Thursday evening, October 12, 6:30 – 8 pm.  Sign up now by clicking HERE

Thu, May 23 2024 15 Iyyar 5784