Rabbi David Paskin
Turn It and Turn It
Updated: Oct 25, 2022
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From Rabbi David
Maybe they don't remember the previous encounters or maybe they just don't care that there's nothing new to see - many of our kids will engage with a toy or an activity over and over again with genuine excitement. Each time will feel like the first time - with new things to discover, new ways to engage and new excitement to be found.
For us adults - not so much. We are far less patient than our children. Often, when we've finished something, we want to move on to the next activity or task. Why dwell on something we've already "finished with" when there are so many more opportunities for discovery out there?
In Pirkei Avot (the Ethics of our Fathers 5:22) we read:
בֶּן בַּג בַּג אוֹמֵר, הֲפֹךְ בָּהּ וַהֲפֹךְ בָּהּ, דְּכֹלָּא בָהּ. וּבָהּ תֶּחֱזֵי, וְסִיב וּבְלֵה בָהּ, וּמִנַּהּ לֹא תָזוּעַ, שֶׁאֵין לְךָ מִדָּה טוֹבָה הֵימֶנָּה:
Ben Bag Bag said: Turn it over, and [again] turn it over, for all is therein. And look into it; And become gray and old therein; And do not move away from it, for you have no better portion than it.
Of course, Ben Bag Bag (yes, that was his name) is talking about the Torah. Turn it (quite literally as the scroll is kept on rollers) and turn it for everything is in it. Ben Bag Bag is reminding us to be like our children. The Torah is our activity and while we may think that we've finished with it - the truth is that it hasn't finished with us.
The Torah is static - it does not change. But we do. Because of that every time we return to the Torah - every time we "turn it" again, we find something new - because we are new.
As we go into Simchat Torah on Sunday and Monday and begin reading the Torah all over again. I want to invite you, if you "finished" with the Torah some time back - to approach it once again. Think of it like that toy that your child played with for a week then got bored of so you hid it away and then brought it out a couple of months later as a "new toy". For your child - it was a wonderful surprise and gift; not because it was new but because they have grown and now can see that gift differently than before; they can imagine new ways to play and new discoveries to make with it.
What might you discover this time around - that you had never seen before?