FIRST of SIX THOUGHTS: Regardless of denomination or inclination, Jews cannot be Jews without the Torah.
There I said it.
Let the poopstorm begin.
Now when I say “Torah,” I mean Torah. I mean the Five Books of Moses. I also mean a straight-up confrontation with the content of these books, unmediated by commentaries. Think of Robert Crumb’s Book of Genesis. You get every verse without exception, right up in your face in black and white; the good, bad and the zaftig. (Did I use that semicolon correctly in the previous sentence? I feel like I did but one never does know…)
What about mitzvot, you say? What about theophany? What about covenant? What about Sinai?
All good. But FIRST we all need to grapple with Torah – every jot and tittle (say that five times fast without bursting into laughter) for if nothing else, it gives Jews a common language and a place from where we can all begin the conversation.
Consider the (in)famous anecdote about Nehama Leibowitz teaching Tanakh to soldiers and asking them to find the story of Abraham and the idol-shop in their editions of Bereisheet. One of the soldiers asked her if the Tanakh they were using was the same one they used when they studied Bereisheet in school…
Then we can cleverly insinuate allusions to the Mark of Cain, Methusaleh, red heifers and the “Fallen Ones” into every day conversations… and if we are really being audacious, we can then move on to consider Rashi, Tosefot, Rashbam, Maimonides, Nahmanides, Mishnah, Talmud and, yes, even the collected works of Rabbi Pinky Shmeckelstein… And then, we can really get into a juicy argument about whether programming the PVR to record Curb Your Enthusiasm is violating an av melakhah or not…
In a world where truthiness trumps facts, it is time we Jews got our Torah facts straight.