This week we begin reading the Torah all over again. Our celebrations of Simhat Torah are now in the rear view mirror. Once more we open the Bible’s pages to the story of the world’s creation. We read about Adam and Eve, Noah’s ark, and Abraham and Sarah. We read all over again about the exodus from Egypt, the revelation at Sinai, forty years of wandering, the building of the tabernacle, and the Torah’s many laws and commandments. Before we know it we will unroll the scroll and read about Moses’ death.
But why do this year after year? Why read the same book, the same chapters and the same verses over and over again? In almost every other instance once we read a book, we put it aside. If we really like the story we might give it to a friend. If we deem it a masterpiece, we might grant it an exalted place on our bookshelves. But not with the Torah.
As soon as we finish it, we turn back to the beginning. We read the same story all over again, again and again, year after year. Why?
The answer is simple, yet profound. There is a power to beginning all over again. There is a faith that even though we read these same pages last year, this year we might uncover some new truth. Last year I could have missed something. Last time I read it, perhaps my focus was lacking during that week’s reading. This year some new truth might become revealed.
This year I may in fact find those elusive answers to life’s many questions. I may discover added meaning.
To begin again, to begin anew, offers promise. This year is going to be better. This year something new, and different, might be revealed. Even though I don’t feel any closer, despite years and years of study and learning, I open the book once again with renewed hope.
That is why we never let go of this seeming repetitious assignment. This is why we refuse to look at the Torah as any other book. We are determined that it must not, it cannot remain on our bookshelves among even our most cherished volumes. It must be read, again and again.
This year something might be revealed. This year something new might be discovered. This year, a truth might become illuminated. We open the book once again.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth…”
Our hope is restored.
A new truth awaits us.