Talah James - My Dvar Torah
My Torah portion is called Ki Tavo, it is when the Israelites entered the land of Israel and Moses wasn’t allowed to enter. During the process of understanding my portion, many interesting discussions and important questions came up. Including……
is the Torah true? When asking this question there are two aspects you have to look at before answering. One, what are we trying to accomplish when reading the Torah? When we read a history book, we read it to get information to use at school or at work, when we read a fairy tale is it true? Did it all really happen? No, then why do we read it? To entertain, to teach children lessons. When we read the Torah we are not reading it to find facts that we know are true, but neither do we read it knowing it is not true. Some read the Torah to get closer to G-d, others read it to understand their religion.
The second aspect, what is considered true in your mind compared to what is true in someone else’s mind. If I had to ask all of you right now to write an essay about what happened in the last 5 minutes. Would all of the essays be the same? If not, then are you all lying? That is the same as when someone says ‘I love you’ are they telling the truth? Well, it depends on the person. What is their concept of love, expensive gifts or quality time. Are they lying if their concept of love is different from yours? I will let you answer that.
So when the Israelites explained their experiences in the Torah, they explained how they felt in the moment. Everyone has their opinions on how something happened but does that mean they’re lying? The Torah is a collection of transcripts written by people who have experienced very memorable times, they wrote down what they perceived the situation to be. The Torah and historical facts work well next to each other. But if you mix them it doesn’t work.
so is the Torah true? After all I have said the answer is up to you, I cannot tell you what to believe, neither can I tell what not to believe. But I haven’t stood up here and wasted all of your time, I have just made you think a little more deeply before finalising the answer in your own head. So just like the Israelites I am going to tell you how I am perceiving this experience, this is a very memorable and special experience and I am so blissful, happy, content and joyful to have all of you with me.
So I just want to thank Mel Beswick for helping me with my Hebrew, Jackie (even though she isn’t here) for helping me learn my Torah Portion, my parents for being so patient and supportive, my grandparents for being here, Rabi Greg for creating such interesting conversations and explaining everything I need to know about my Torah Portion, the rest of my family for making this environment such a loving atmosphere and most importantly Temple Israel (for making everything that’s happening today possible.