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The Torah Channel -- Chronicle Online/The WORD 10/20/22

Weekly On-line Rabbi's D'var-Torah

October 20, 2022

25 Tishrei 5783


My family LOVES the Billy Joel Channel on Sirius XM. We get very happy every time it comes back on and we don’t understand why it’s not a permanent channel. When we listen to it, though, it’s not just the music that we enjoy. We like listening to Billy Joel talk about his songs and how he came to write them. I’ve heard him talk about old British folk songs, Chopin, the Four Seasons, Christian spirituals and other disparate musical influences. My favorite part is when he discusses the way he has written his own original songs in all of these different styles without taking someone else’s music. It’s his music. It’s a new song. But, he borrows from – and builds on – older musical traditions. As we start the cycle of reading the Torah over again, I couldn’t help but think about this. We will be reading the same stories, laws and traditions over again, but every time we read them they end up a little different. There’s a different riff, a different tempo or a different chord. We build on how the stories were understood in previous generations, but they need to make sense to us today. So, yesterday morning, I sat with our pre-school students and we read about the beginning of the world in a way that made sense for them (hint: LOTS of animal sounds!). The previous morning, I studied the same portion with my adult learners in way that made sense for them (hint: more grammatical analysis). Not everybody likes to dance to the same music and not everybody learns Torah the same way. This Shabbat as we unroll our brand-new Torah scroll, we’ll chant the words of the Torah the ancient cantillation. But, then it will be up to each of us to find the Torah melody that works for us, that helps the text speak to us. We could think of as “The Torah Channel.” It will be different for each of us. But life is better with Torah study in our lives. Just as it’s better with music – whether or not you like the Billy Joel Channel. Shalom, RAF.

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