Phrases, too, can be used in ways different from the meanings of the individual words. Arabs welcome guests to their home with ah-lan wa sah-lan. Ah-lan means kin and sah-lan means easy: you arrive as part of the family, may your entry here be easy.
A gift is most tended, most cherished, when we know what it is. At its most fixed definition, Torah is the scroll that I read from, containing the five books of Moses. Moving towards a more broad understanding, Torah is also the entire Bible: the five books of Moses; the Prophets; and the Writings. At its widest and most flexible definition, Torah is the entire compendium of Jewish teaching, from the five books of Moses to the most recent commentary.
Ultimately, Torah is the blueprint that guides the Jewish people. Contained within are ethics and moral lessons; a structure for Jewish life, including holidays and life cycle celebrations. From these stories and guidelines, we have derived our world view and theology. When we are able to unwrap it and allow it to inform our lives, change us, and help us to grow into our best selves, then we have fully received the gift of Torah. ...the gift of Torah is not to be stashed away in a drawer, or unwrapped without curiosity and challenge. A scholar, whose name is unknown, wrote in the 18th century: “When one utters words of Torah, one never ceases to create spiritual potencies and new lights...”1
For the Israelites returned to their homeland after their captivity in Babylon, Ezra’s reciting and unwrapping torah moved them to tears as well as shouts of Amen! Amen! and festive celebration.
- Rest in the presence of the Trinity.
- Ask your patron saint to present you to Jesus.
- Chat with Jesus: Hear him announce his good news to you. Notice what his word stirs in you, to what his word invites you.
- Speak to Jesus as one friend to another and ask for the grace to respond more generously to Jesus by responding more generously to others, especially anyone at the margins of your life, of society, of the Church.
- Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ words are the best translation we have for fulfilling his mission and becoming new, living lights for our world.
- http://www.beth-elsa.org/abv052606.htm. Site accessed in 2007 before Rabbi Allison Bergman Vann moved to Suburban Temple-Kol Ami.