This week I had the privilege of participating in a ritual to honor the new moon of the month of Cheshvan. It was amazing to have so many of you participate, and to lead with other Kol Tzedek rabbis, Jessica and Alissa. Together we called on several banks (Wells Fargo, TD Bank) to stop funding the Dakota Access Pipeline.
On Simchat Torah our liturgy changed to include a daily prayer for rain, and once again called our attention to the power of water. Water is a key element in Jewish ritual life. Rabbi Andrew Pepperstone writes:
One could go back to any Torah portion and find connections to water, wells, or rain. In Genesis, one of the few things that precede Creation is the primordial water, called tehom, or the Abyss. Avraham digs wells. Jacob crosses rivers and uncovers a well. Joseph saves Egypt from a lack of water. The Israelites are enslaved to make mud-based bricks, and pass through the Sea of Reeds when their enslavement comes to an end. During the years of wandering, water is a major issue, since it is a scarce and precious resource in a desert." Rabbi Pepperstone concludes, "One could read the entire Torah as a narrative centered on water.”
The rabbis of the Talmud take this even further. They assert, that Torah is itself water (Ein Mayim Elah Torah). It is sustenance and survival, it is transformative and healing. And perhaps most vividly, we call upon Mayyim Hayyim - Living Waters and Torah Hayyim - a living tradition. Torah and Water are alive. And as we learn from the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, they are life. Together I hope will continue to uncover and reveal the implications of this truth.
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Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari brings Torat Hayyim, a living tradition, to Kol Tzedek through thoughts about prayer, justice, and community.