Letter from Rabbi Egolf 5/19/2016

Rabbi Jim EgolfShalom, I hope the e-Megillah finds you well as Spring seems to have (finally) burst forth.

Recently I have been listening to a medley of songs from the last URJ Biennial. The lead song is a riff on Harry Belafonte’s “We Come From the Fire.” As the song proceeds there is an added line which goes:

We come from the Torah,
Living in the Torah,
Go back to the Torah,
Turn your world around.

In our Jewish calendar this ties into the theme of this time of the year. Immediately after the first day of Passover we start to count the Omer. Initially the Omer was a yearly grain gathering and offering at the Temple in Jerusalem. As the fields yielded their grain from the winter season, Israelites would return home and cut the new grain and either send it, or in some cases, take it to the Temple in Jerusalem. Over the years though, the tradition was amended slightly. This time of count Omer also became the time it took to go from slavery in Egypt to receiving the Torah at Mt. Sinai. Hence the end of this time period culminates in the holiday of Shavuot, the giving of Torah.

As members of a synagogue I want to return to Harry’s song. It provides a good reflection for us at this time. Do we come from Torah, i.e. the world of God’s possibilities, or from Egypt, i.e. a place defined by the values of humans alone? How do we live Torah and if we were to ‘go back to the Torah,’ what would you go back to? Ultimately whether you sing the song or not, our world is constantly turning around. I see the reflection at this time of the year to be one where we are invite to once again have that turning be with pieces of Torah.

May your Torah turn you and may you turn the Torah you live towards blessing.

Rabbi Jim Egolf