Water & Torah

A message from Rabbi Isenberg:

Tuesday, August 4th, 2020

After crossing the Sea of Reeds to safety, it takes the Israelites three days to find their first source of water in the wilderness. Three days without water left the Israelites physically exhausted and dehydrated, and spiritually bereft as well.

The Torah’s commentators teach us that this was one of only a few instances throughout the prolonged 40 year journey when the Israelites were truly without water. In fact, Rashi comments that the Israelites had a constant well of water because of the merit of Miriam, Moshe’s sister. The commentary imagines a nurturing Miriam, whose very presence provides miraculous wells of water that would sustain the Israelites.

No wonder, then, that one of the other instances when the Israelites are without water is when Miriam dies. Upon Miriam’s death, the life-sustaining well that had followed the Israelites dried up. Here, too, the Israelites experience a spiritual drought in addition to a physical one.

The rabbis would ultimately draw a parallel between water and Torah. If Torah is as much a source of nourishment, sustenance, and hydration as water, then we Jews should not go more than three days without Torah. That, dear congregants, is how we arrived at the weekly schedule of Torah reading: Shabbat, Monday, and Thursday. In a typical week, we do not let more than three days pass without hearing or chanting Torah.

These, however, are not typical times. Since the start of the pandemic, CBI has worked hard establishing creative ways to engage with you and maintain a strong sense of communal togetherness, all while adhering to the life-saving protocols of physical distancing. One area, however, that had not yet been restored is the weekly rhythm of hearing Torah chanted. It is just my fourth day as your new rabbi, but I believe we are ready to reintroduce the time-honored tradition of ensuring we, too, do not go more than three days without hearing some Torah chanted.

Therefore, I’m excited to announce that as of next Monday, August 10th, we will resume weekday morning minyan on Mondays and Thursdays, via Zoom. Along with Shabbat mornings, we will be back to the regular rhythms of Torah. Here’s the more precise schedule:

Monday mornings at 7:30am via Zoom.
Thursday mornings at 7:30am via Zoom.
Shabbat mornings at 9:30am via Zoom/Livestream

A word about the pandemic: Let’s remember to remain sensitive to anyone in our midst who needs help, support, and comfort. We are all still in survival mode, in one way or another, and it is critical that we exhibit patience, generosity of spirit, and kindness to each other.

I look forward to seeing you soon:
● Tuesdays at Noon on Zoom for lunch
● At one of the many outdoor and physically-distant parlor meetings
● At this Thursday’s Ice Cream Tailgate
● Friday Kabbalat Shabbat services at 6pm or Shabbat morning gatherings at 9:30am
● Rabbi vs Rebbetzin Cook-Off, Live on Zoom from my kitchen, on Thursday, August 20th
● A host of programs for the month of Elul, as we approach the High Holidays


Rabbi Ari Isenberg