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Sukkat Shalom B'nei Noach




Torah Reflections: Conversations on the Weekly Parshah

Integrating Torah into one’s life through reflection and conversation can be an incredibly fun and engaging experience. It’s a journey of discovery, where ancient wisdom and timeless teachings come to life in our daily experiences. Through reflection, we have the opportunity to dive deep into the rich tapestry of Torah, extracting profound insights and lessons that resonate with our modern lives. The joy lies in the ‘aha’ moments, those instances when a Torah verse or story suddenly connects with our personal challenges, aspirations, and values. And when we engage in conversations about Torah with others, it becomes an interactive exploration, where diverse perspectives and interpretations enhance our understanding. These dialogues often spark excitement and intellectual curiosity, making the learning process both enjoyable and fulfilling. Torah becomes a vibrant and dynamic part of our lives, offering not just guidance but also a source of endless fascination, connection, and growth.

NOTE: Don’t feel obligated to go through every source or answer all the questions—unless you want to. Even one source, or one question will give you plenty of material for discussion and meditation. Enjoy this!

Some thoughts from the parsha

The parsha delves into the divine essence of the tablets, as outlined in Exodus 32:15-16. Many commentators question the placement of verse 16 in proximity to Moses shattering the tablets. In the gemara, we find a passage that details the miraculous standing of specific letters on the tablets. According to the gemara, the writing on the tablets could be read from both sides, owing to the miraculous fact that they were engraved from one side to the other, which would mean that certain letters would need to be suspended in midair. The Meshech Chochma suggests that the reverse reading of the tablets signifies two ways of contemplating and connecting with G-d. One approach involves looking upward, recognizing the unfathomable nature of G-d and His guidance. The other involves looking downward, acknowledging the inherent wisdom in creation. Both perspectives, according to the Meshech Chochma, are crucial for a comprehensive understanding of G-d.

The shattering of the tablets also hints at the perils of idolatry. Had the tablets not been broken, they might have been wrongly worshipped instead of G-d, Who bestowed them. This emphasizes the significance of acknowledging G-d’s centrality in our lives.

Questions for Personal Reflection

  1. How does recognizing the divine aspect in parts of your life impact your sense of G-d’s presence in your daily experiences?
  2. When thinking about looking up to understand G-d better and looking down to appreciate the wisdom in creation, which way feels more natural for you in your spiritual journey right now?
  3. Can you point out times in your life where you might unknowingly prioritize certain things over your connection with G-d, similar to the concerns about idolatry in the passage?
  4. How do you make sure that G-d stays at the center of your life, and what makes it hard to keep this focus amid daily life?
  5. Think about times in your spiritual journey when you felt like you needed to let go of certain beliefs or practices. How did that impact your growth and understanding of your connection with the divine?

Shabbat Shalom!

By Rabbi Tani Burton

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