What is Judaism?

For some people, Judaism is chiefly about the community, and its spirit of togetherness and camaraderie. For others, who are more philosophically inclined, Judaism is mainly about a set of theological principles, which describe the tenets of Jewish spiritual belief and ideology. For others still, Judaism is primarily about concrete religious practice – the implementation of the mitzvoth in our everyday life.

Whichever way you see Judaism, our parashah states “It [the Torah] is no empty thing. It is your life, and through it you will lengthen your days upon the land.”

The Torah, as one German-Jewish poet did well to put it, is “the portable home of the Jewish people.” It is only through and by the Torah that our people have lasted this long during our millennia-old and tempestuous history. For the Jew, taught George Steiner, the “[Torah] text is homeland.” That’s why we kiss her when she passes us by, and that’s why we dance with her like a bride on Simchat Torah. She is our national song, and the undying melody of our deepest yearnings, our greatest hopes, and our timeless values.

Shabbat Shalom and Shannah Tovah,
Rabbi Sessler

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