Over the High Holidays, I look for a good book to read in preparation for my favorite holiday — Simchat Torah!
As the “Torah with Laura” teacher, I need to keep up with new (and traditional) ways of exploring the Torah. Over the days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (even occasionally during services), I read Bruce Feiler’s new book The First Love Story – Adam, Eve and Us. If all you read is the book cover, you will be hooked:
“Since antiquity, one story has stood at the center of every conversation about men and women. One couple has been the battleground for human relationships and sexual identity … history has blamed Adam and Eve — but especially Eve — for bringing sin, deceit and death into the world.”
For those of us hooked on Torah and finding the messages for our lives, this book makes you relook at this first story. Today, as we deal with horrible happenings from hurricanes to mass shootings, this story of love and connection are crucial to reevaluating what is important. It doesn’t matter how or if you believe the “realness” of the Torah stories, you can’t deny the lessons. The story of Adam and Eve begins when G-d says, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Do not go any further as the next line is often where the problems begin.
Let’s look at the message of needing others as the important lesson. Today as we spend more time without real connection to people (because our phones and computers allow us to communicate without looking in the eyes of the one we are talking to), loving and caring happens from a distance.
As the camp director, I see the pros and cons of technology for our connections to others. We are not going to get rid of those devices and to even think that is crazy — but we can put them down to have real communication. Let me share another book that you must read: Braving the Wilderness — the Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brene Brown. Feiler and Brown both focus on the need for belonging and we begin our understanding of belonging first with our family and then it expands outward but only through being together. Here is a quote from Brown’s book: “We’re going to have to learn how to listen, have hard conversations, look for joy, share pain, and be more curious than defensive, all while seeking moments of togetherness.”
My hope is that you will pick up one or both of these books as we begin our cycle of Torah reading on Simchat Torah and connect more this year. Feiler says at the end: “We need Adam and Eve as our role models. And they’ve earned it. In a world dominated by I, Adam and Eve were the first we. They were the first to say we are better off as an us than either of us is as a me.”
Reach out to form more communities of belonging — together we can make a better world this year.