Cantor’s Column – October 2019

The Torah of Our Lives

Cantor Ilan Davidson

Jewish tradition teaches that Torah is a living document, always growing in meaning and depth, forever bringing meaning to our lives. How does this translate into our lives today? How can I make Torah alive for me? What is the Torah of my life?

When we were children, our Torah was often dictated. Our parents, teachers, and clergy told us what to believe, how to interpret, and what our values and ethics should be. That was their job – to teach and to guide, and maybe, sometimes, to force (LOL). When we become Bar or Bat Mitzvah, we accept the responsibility of Torah, both literally and figuratively. We are suddenly responsible for the passing of these traditions, but simultaneously, we become responsible for interpreting its teachings and writings, in our own Torah, through our actions and interactions with each other, the world, and God. That’s a hefty undertaking. It’s for that reason that we encourage our students to continue through Confirmation, and perhaps even beyond, the moment when we once again stand before our community and Confirm our personal interpretations and beliefs.

As adults, we continue to accept, interpret, and write our Torah. We may choose to study further, broaden our understandings of our place in this world, share with and teach others, marry, and/or welcome a new generation into the world. Whatever our individual path, we are always writing the Torah of our lives, our own personal narrative and how we will become remembered in this world.

What is the Torah of your life? Will you be the protector, creator, innovator, educator? Will you be a leader or a follower? Whatever your direction, allow Temple Beth El to be part of it. We are always here to help you expand not only your knowledge of Torah, but the ways in which you can be the author of your Torah. We will celebrate with you, comfort you in your shortfalls, and provide as rich an experience as you allow. Oh, and bring some friends along your journey with you. You are the best ambassadors that TBE and the Jewish people can have. As we conclude the reading of the Torah and start it anew, this Simhat Torah, may you welcome new opportunities to express your Judaism and connect with the richness of our community.