Spirit and Soul
A beginning in the Jewish year is often a repeat of the past. Copy…paste….repeat. But this year is different. It is a beginning like we have not seen in our lifetime. Just two weeks ago, our Sinai Temple Religious School students entered our sacred walls for the first time in almost two years. Children are learning the aleph bet, Torah on their tongue, sweet as honey. In Bereshit, we learn that a human being only becomes a living soul when God breathes into our nostrils the breath of life.
Rashi explains a living creature can be an animal or a beast, but the human being is invested with wisdom and speech. The prophet Isaiah expands on this concept. Each human being receives a soul, but the one who pursues the paths of peace and pleasantness receives a holy spirit. A soul is given to each of us, but we must develop the traits for the ruach neshama, the spirit of the soul.
On Simchat Torah, we both ended and began the Torah again. As per the tradition of the Sinai Temple Religious School, we unroll the entire Torah from beginning to end, almost 100 feet long. The children look in awe as they find their Hebrew name in our sacred book. They not only hear the words, but they see them, they feel them, their souls are imbibed with spirit. When we begin our tefilla session each Sunday, our students sing these words, ani margish zot b’gufi bruchi vnishmati, I feel it in my body, with my spirit, and my soul. Let this be our blessing as we begin the Torah once again: The fresh breath of Torah shall constantly be in our soul.