Bereishit 5779

What a Story!

Simchat Torah morning, after hakafot (a couple of which were done with our preschoolers carrying toy Torahs and flags, clutching lollipops) and Torah reading, the scrolls returned to the ark…

“Thank you to the Shirat Hayam Literary Association for inviting me to review the book we just finished reading. It’s quite a classic tome, this history, legal treatise, moral guide, and mélange of prose and poetry all rolled into one epic literary masterpiece. Small wonder that it’s taken us a whole year to read our way through it.

“This is a good thing, in my opinion, since a slow and thorough reading allows us to savor the pleasures and challenges of our book. The primary protagonists — God, Moses, the people Israel — develop over time, and we certainly wouldn’t want to deprive them of the space needed to grow, to mature.

“As it has been quite a while since we started reading this work, let me begin by reminding us of some major plot points. Rather than trying to sum up the various parts in neat little packages that would effectively drain the epic of much of its power, I will ask your indulgence to go chapter by chapter. (It may be close to noon, but it’s yom tov, so who’s in a hurry?!)

“First, as I’m sure you recall, God creates the universe. Step by step, day by day, the Holy One of Creation speaks into being the cosmos, the earth, flora and fauna, and humans. Just like that, and in only 31 sentences!

“Before I continue with chapter 2, I want to thank Philip Hollander for reminding us that this great work already has a sequel, as just a short while ago he read to us the first chapter of that work, the Book of Joshua. Now, back to the tales of creation.…”

At this point, the reviewer was, um, encouraged to abandon the podium and return to his seat as it seems that some members of the book club were indeed ready to move on to lunch. Perhaps he will be invited back next year to continue his review…

Shabbat shalom ! שבת שלום