Authority, Re-Telling, and Deuteronomy

We are rolling through the fifth and final segment of LCVY’s “Parahsah Challenge,” three weeks into study of the Book of Deuteronomy.

The idea of re-telling is challenging and inspiring the Hill Torah Discussion group, and we’d love to hear your thoughts as well….

Deuteronomy of OUR Lives

Deuteronomy means “retelling,” and throughout the book we hear stories previously told by the disembodied narrator retold in Moses’ voice. Often we notice that things are not reported in Moses’ voice quite the same way they were told in Exodus or Numbers. And, of course, we all know that one family will have many different tales for one event in which many members participated — and the tales grow and change as the tellers do.

Rabbi Diane O. (Cohler) Esses wrote some years back about this important theme, suggesting that we take the opportunity of these readings in Devarim/Deuteronomy — which come as we approach Elul and the forty days that lead us toward the days of awe — to do some of our own re-telling:

(Re)telling Your Own (Heretical) Story….Name the authorities that you had as a child and the sources of authority you relate to now. Trace your evolution, and then try to envision [a future path ]….Do you want to be more of an authority yourself? What sources of authority would you like to drawn on? How would you ideally like to wield authority? Answers to these questions will both revise and revitalize our ancestral history.
— Diane Esses in Lifecycles v.2: Jewish Women on Biblical Themes in Contemporary Life
Orenstein, Debra and Jane Litman, eds. Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, 1998.
Longer excerpt and more at Song Every Day

Share the Telling

As we enter the period of introspection that closes the old year and head toward the new, tell fellow L’Chaim V’Yayin folk about some of the authorities in your life and how they’ve changed. In particular, (how) has your sense of “authority” in reading Torah changed over the years? in the past year? Any hopes in this regard for the new year?

Please share thoughts — and any “authorities,” be they your own ideas, Torah commentary, poetry, visual arts, etc.


One thought on “Authority, Re-Telling, and Deuteronomy

  1. vspatz says:

    As I get older, I find that my sense of “authority” has shifted from the inside to the margins and, at least partially, from what I want to tell to what I want to hear: I am much more interested in hearing tales told from perspectives that are less often heard or valued and that are not necessarily my own. One help in this regard is _Torah Queeries: Weekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible_ and the related materials published on Keshet’s website. The book does a remarkable job, IMO, of finding positive messages without dumbing down or glossing over difficult material.


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