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The Lineage of Torah

06/05/2023 03:21:56 PM

Jun5

Rabbi Chaya Gusfield

This last weekend was the fabulous service where Aidan Sommerfield became a bar mitzvah. At the end of the passing of the Torah from his mishpachah (family), and while he was holding the Torah, I said the following:

"Our traditional Jewish story tells us that Moses received Torah at Sinai. He transmitted her to Joshua, Joshua passed her to the Elders, the Elders to the Prophets, the Prophets to the members of the Great Assembly. But we also know, in our hearts, that Miriam also received Torah at Sinai and passed her to the daughters of Tzelophachad who insisted on their rightful inheritance, who passed her to Devorah, the prophetess who kept the peace, who gave her to Channah, the creator of prayer of the heart, who gave her to the halakhic sage Beruriah. Channah Rachel, the Chasidic rebbe eventually received her and passed her to Regina Yonas, the first woman rabbi ordained in 1935 in Germany. As we study Torah and learn about Moses and Joshua and the Prophets, we also commit ourselves to learning who these women are and how they have impacted us today.

The Torah, passed down through the Ages from generation to generation, today comes to you. We look forward to the day when YOU like those who came before, will make Torah YOUR own story and pass Torah to the next generation."

I originally heard these words (or some variation of them) from my teacher Rabbi Daniel Siegal during the ordination of many rabbis through the ALEPH Rabbinical Program. It was always moving no matter how many times I heard it.

I share it with you, so you might also imagine that the Torah and her* wisdom belong to all of us, and come to us through many different experiences. Although the Torah is passed from family member to b’mitzvah, its origins are so much older and contain the wisdom of even more. It is up to us to expand our imaginations and to receive whatever we can.

May we all have the opportunity to feel the ancient wisdom in any of the ways it comes to and through us.

*Torah is a feminine word, however, Torah, as our wisdom text, is really gender abundant and inclusive.

Sat, July 20 2024 14 Tammuz 5784