a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

day 48 of 50 The Broken Heart of Torah

Posted on: May 25, 2012

Jacqueline: (old siddur, with broken binding)

I forgot to keep it simple, and so it broke

Amichai: Sacred Jewish books, when broken and no longer useful, gain the status of human bodies, buried in graves, back in the ground.

Words for us are serious business, sacred matter. Just like the containers of the word expire, sometimes so do the words themselves, ancient content worthy of demise.

On this day, just before the journey’s end and we arrive at the symbolic summit to re-receive the sacred words, I pause to gather what is broken at the very core of all these words, the broken heart of the Torah.

I think about the original set of ten commandments, coming down from Sinai to end up shattered at the feet of the golden calf. The very first time we received the Torah, it was broken upon contact. The shards have followed us on our journeys ever since.

I think about the words of Torah that are mean and broken having broken so many lives – ancient hatreds of the other, xenophobic, homophobic, on and on. These are broken shards of holiness that we can choose to carry with us – or put away,on a shelf, relics, thanked, dismissed for what they are: history.

We approach this anniversary of receiving of the Torah with this knowledge – Torah is also broken, and still holy. We get to celebrate the imperfect perfect, what is still vital and also what is not. At the root of our sacred is the memory of loss.

48, Yesod of Malchut, the very core and root of the very essence of our lives is rooted in this fractured reality yet it keeps us firm, rising from our murky origins we reach up for the stars. All of it is holy, torn up books, and discarded dogmas, all these broken objects, shattered hearts and faiths held on to: One Torah, the ultimate mosaic of life.

One more day to go.

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