Modern Hebrew poets and ancient sages could have rich conversations on their shared themes. They weave on a common loom warped with an ancient language and a legacy of images. Sages and singers have much to say to one another about Abraham’s spiritual journey, the binding of Isaac, about loves and disappointment, about the nature of humans made in the image of God.
Across the centuries, each contributes timely art to a timeless project. When they speak to one another, there is no early or late.
The project of Sicha is to put these creative voices in conversation one with the other, allowing them to agree, to argue, and to combine so as to broaden and enrich those of us who join the discourse, for it is our conversation, as well. These intergenerational conversations on common themes are drawn from the calendar of Synagogue weekly Scripture readings.
Below you will find, in each case, a short exchange in the original Hebrew and with an original translation. The somewhat elusive goal is to bring voices that speak in a simple, clear language so as to bring at least a few words of the original Hebrew to the grasp of those who love and learn the language. Most important is the conversation which elaborates and expands Torah. Click on any of the conversations below to view:
Bereishit: A Conversation on Bereishit Across the Centuries
Noah: A Conversation Between Two Yehudas
Lech L’cha: A Journey Ancient and New
Toldot: Isaac’s Blindness, As the Story is Told
VaYetzei: A God Who Takes Place
VaYishlach: Naming the Angel
VaYeshev: The Pit in Joseph
VaYechi: The Gathering of Ancestors
Va’eira: Sufficient Meaning?
B’shalach: Risking the Red Sea
Yitro: Overturning A Mountain of Tradition
Terumah: Outside In
Ki Tisa: Divine Gaze
The silences within and between conversations are at least as important as the words spoken. What Abraham and Isaac did NOT say cries out for midrash, as well as what Sarah, may she be remembered for good, had no chance to say, speaks volumes. A father, a mother and a son, each faithful to each other and to God at the same time is heart wrenching. The silence are like the thunder on the mountain that is Moriah. Each person today hears that thunder in different ways. Blessed are those that hear that sound, like clarion sound, for it calls each of us to examine our own hearts and the heart of the community that harkens to these questioning and answering notes.
It is certainly the case that silence forms and informs conversation. When we engage an ancient tradition with our lived experiences, we bring all our best conversational art to the meeting. This involves paying attention to the words exchanged and to the silences that offer shape and definition. One ancient teacher says that learning Torah involves, among other attributes: a listening ear, careful lips and a discerning heart (Pirke Avot 6:5).