Ethan Schwartz, a biblical scholar at Harvard University, notes the following meaningful observation about the upcoming holiday – Simchat Torah.
“The Torah reading for Simchat Torah (literally, “rejoicing of Torah”) includes, appropriately enough, one of the Torah’s most famous uses of the word “Torah” itself (Deut. 33:4): “Moses commanded us Torah – the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob.”
“Simchat Torah is about celebrating this inheritance, which sets Israel apart from the rest of the world. For many modern Jews, however, this separation prompts more anxiety than joy. In modernity, it is often assumed that authentic Jewish life demands that Jews choose Torah over the outside world. This can make the joyous “inheritance of the congregation of Jacob” feel isolating and lonely.
“However, exploring the Wisdom heritage of Deuteronomy’s (the fifth of the Five Books of Moses) concept of Torah offers a challenge to modern claims that Torah is opposed to the world. It reveals that meaningful dialogue with the outside world has been an essential part of Torah since the advent of the idea of Torah itself.
“…Jews celebrating Simchat Torah can rejoice in a Torah that aspires both to set them apart as God’s inherited people and to make them a respectable and, indeed, “wise” part of the rest of humanity.”
Jewish education is the gateway to discovering the Torah that Ethan Schwartz so aptly describes as a way of life that both distinguishes us as a distinctive group but one that is dedicated to contributing to the rest of humanity.
Our mission is to help make the entry to the gateway affordable to all families.
A number of individuals responded to our email “call” last week to take part in focus groups intended to provide us feedback about some of our plans to make day school costs more manageable. We thank them.
Parents who are sending or planning to send their children to Jewish day school, but who are concerned that current tuition levels may make this extremely difficult or impossible, are still invited to contact us to join the focus groups.
Shabbat shalom. Shmini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah samayach!