I had to do a double take when I first saw it. Could it actually be? On the same lawn, two signs – one for Trump/Pence, the other for Biden/Harris. In this age of extreme partisanship, it seemed inconceivable that one street address could espouse the views of both sets of candidates. The dueling signs were either an indication of a divided household or a statement to all of us to tone down the rhetoric. The problem was positively Talmudic.
In many ways the quandary reminded me of the holiday of Simchat Torah that we will be celebrating this Shabbat. Tonight in services we will do something just as dissonant as warring political signs, but something we have come over time to not only accept, but to see as normal: we will read the end and the beginning of the Torah, in that order.
In a blink of an eye we move from the death of Moses at the end of Deuteronomy, to the birth of the world in the beginning of Genesis. How crazy? Have you ever deliberately finished a book and then went right back to the cover page? Surely, you have done the opposite, sneaking a peak at the ending before you began the book, but doing the opposite, why would you even subject yourself to such nonsense? But, as Jews, we not only do this, but celebrate the fact that we are.
We do so as a reminder that the Torah was never meant to be read linearly. We do so to encourage contrarian thinking. And, we do so, to encourage each other to be less judgemental. When Ben Bag Bag told us that, we should “turn it, turn it, everything is in it,” he was reminding us both about the infinite possibilities contained within our sacred text, and that we, over the course of our life, will change and grow, often floating between discordant and contrary perspectives. If we can recognize this tendency in ourselves, we can do so for others as well.
Please join us on Friday night at 6 PM at our Park and Pray as we simultaneously close one Torah cycle, and begin another again.