The power of storytelling
They don’t call the Jews “The People of the Book” for nuthin’! We are a storytelling people. From our biblical origin stories to our Talmudic parables to the folklore of our Yiddish and Ladino forebearers to the Hollywood silver screen, Jews have always told stories. That is how we pass on our history, traditions and values. That is how we teach the next generation. In fact, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks says, “Jews were commanded, as it were, to become a nation of storytellers.” (Lessons in Leadership, p. 277)
Many of us made it through COVID by binge-watching compelling stories as told through the lens of screenwriters on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Apple TV. The younger generation watched (and shared) their own stories on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. But well before that media existed, there was parchment—and the original story on the original parchment was the Torah, also known as the Old Testament.
That original story, divided into 52 portions, is still told publicly by Jews every week so that it can be fully recounted over the course of the year. And this week, we celebrated Simchat Torah, which marks the completion of the cycle of reading the Torah. This joyous milestone is commemorated in synagogues by the whole congregation dancing and singing while passing the sacred Torah scrolls from one person to the other.
While the Torah may arguably be our greatest story ever, there are some pretty remarkable stories being shared every single day. So, the next time you finish a truly great story, I mean, one that will stick with you for a long time, I challenge you to celebrate a little. Hold up that book (or tablet) and do a little jig. Do something that will help you remember that moment. And then, after the party dies down, get started on the next one.