In a recent conversation, a deeply rooted and knowledgeable individual offered me the thought that our weekly Torah readings should be referred to as stories, not portions. He emphasized that each portion is a series of stories about people’s lives, interactions, relationships with one another, with the Spiritual. What I heard is that by referring to these stories as “portions,” we lose perspective by overstating the segmenting of the Torah and understating the profound moments within each weekly reading.
A stunning piece of art comes to mind. I don’t recall the artists name, or the name of the art piece. What I remember clearly is that the painting was a series of faint dots that hinted at a face hiding within the array of color. Amazingly, when opening the camera app on my phone and viewing the art piece as displayed on my screen, the dots were transformed into a revealed image of a woman’s face.
Perspective and analogy. Our stories this week, from Shoftim, speak of just courts and rebellious elders, a king in Israel, prophecy, honoring boundaries and of going to war. So, too, in these stories, do we learn of our obligation to approach our enemy first with words of peace. Our Torah, these stories. Instances of conflict in an overarching pursuit of peace, through words of peace. Imagine if we approached each conversation, each conflict, with words of peace, revealing hidden potential through a different lens.
Rabbi Jay Strear
President & CEO