I’ve always loved stories. In the past years, however, I’ve been taken in more stories through TV shows, and to a lesser extent, movies and short videos than through reading words. Reading a story doesn’t give me the same experience as viewing a story unfold. When I view a story my mind still wanders to other things; I often find myself viewing a show while texting people, or trying to do work, or just thinking about my life… And so I usually find myself only partly invested in the story, with the rest of my energy being taken up with whatever I’m thinking about at the moment.
When I read, I also take in the story at my rhythm. I can stop and recover from something that just happened. If a character has just be introduced, or if another side of her personality has just been exposed, I can reflect on that, and then go back in to the story, without doing anything beyond looking up from the page. And a book can creep into my life in a way that a movie or a show just can’t. I can read for a bit, then go about my day, knowing that the story is there, unfolding. I’ll read a book over a couple of days, or weeks, or maybe even months, depending on how committed I am. And during that period, the characters and the events just follow me in whatever it is that I’m doing. Most importantly, I can see myself through the eyes of the characters, and get a perspective on myself that watching a story just doesn’t give me. In other words, reading a story moves me to introspection, then sometimes to action, and occasionally even to change, in a way that viewing a story just can’t do.
The stories of the Bible have moved me to introspection more so than any other stories that I’ve read. First, the contained language. There is so much space in between the lines that I need to fill in just to get decent enough idea of what’s going on. And, inevitably, as I find myself filling in the space with whatever lessons I’m meant to be learning at that particular moment, some words of comfort that address the exact situation I am in. Second, they are stories that I know so well, and that I have known for so long. The characters in the parashas have been following me around since I could remember. They have comforted me in the past. When all of a sudden, I see a clear and unmistakable rebuke to my behavior in the words of the week’s parasha, I know that it is a rebuke that comes from love.
There is something that feels deeply collaborative to me about writing on the parasha. The text is so familiar, that reading it feels like a collaboration with an old friend to figure out the world – my world – at any given moment. And so I am really excited to be collaborating with Yael Mizrahi, another very old friend with whom I try to figure out the world.