Wednesday, August 14, 2013

8 Elul

On Yom Kippur morning, many Reform synagogues read the words of Deuteronomy 29-30 in lieu of the traditional Torah reading from Leviticus, which focus on the ancient Yom Kippur sacrifices.  Regarding the Torah, Deuteronomy 30:12 teaches, “Lo bashamayim hi – It is not in Heaven,” meaning that it isn’t too far away from us that we cannot grasp it. In a beautiful Talmudic legend known as the story of the Oven of Akhnai (Bava Metzia 59b)[1], the Rabbis use this quote as justification for their authority to interpret Torah according to their own understanding.  Judaism teaches that every Jewish soul, in one way or another, stood at Mount Sinai and received the Torah.  This beautiful gift is ours to learn, ours to interpret, and ours to pass on.  How will we use this gift in the year to come?


[1] An excerpted version of the story may be found at

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