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3 CHAPTERS A DAY

by Rabbi Matt March 14, 2012

If you are 13 years old, and above, read on.  Did you know that TaNaKh is the Hebrew acronym for the 39 books of the Hebrew Bible?  Have you ever read the entire TaNaKh cover to cover... in English?  Have you started with Genesis and read, book by book, until the end of II Chronicles?  No?, me neither.  Will you join me in the attempt?  Encouragment is found in the words of Joshua:  "This Book of the Torah shall not depart from your mouth; but you shall meditate on it day and night... and then you shall have good success." (Joshua 1:8)  

Can we do it?  Encouragment is found in the Midrash on Song of Songs which gives ethical and devotional thoughts from 1,200 years ago.  Rabbi Jochanan of Sepphoris explained... by a parable from enormous heaps of dust.  "A stupid person will say, "Who can clear away all this?"  But a sensible person will say:  "I will clear away two basketfuls by day and two by night, until it is all cleared away."  So a stupid student says:  "Who can learn the whole of the Torah?"  But the wise student says:  "I will learn two halachot (laws) today and two tomorrow, until I have learnt the whole."  (Song of Songs Rabbah 5:11)

Will you join me in the attempt?  Rabbi, there are only 24 hours in a day and I am already sleep deprived, when will I find the time?  If you intend to wait for your life to slow down... it is likely you will never read, nor ponder, the great teachings of Judaism.  There is so much to consider in the TaNaKh, so much wisdom to glean, passages which bring solace, and passages with which to struggle, should not we "attain a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12) sooner than later?  

I suggest we embark upon this at the next Jewish New Year.  The next Jewish New Year?  September 17, 2012 when we usher in 5773?  No, let us begin on the new year, this spring, on the first of Nisan, Saturday, March 24. 

What do you mean the new year this spring?  In the Mishneh we learn that there is more than one Jewish New Year.  Actually, there are four New Years.  "On the first of Nisan is the New Year for Kings and for Festivals; on the first of Elul is the New Year for the tithe of animals....  On the first of Tishri is the New Year for the years, for Sabbatical Years, for Jubilee Years, for planting and for vegetables; and... Shevat is the New Year for Trees... on the fifteenth thereof."  (Tractate Rosh Hashanah 1:1)

At the beginning of Nisan, every king’s reign began.  It is also the month of our redemption from Egyptian slavery, our joyous celebration of Passover, and the month we began our journey, as a free people, to Mount Sinai and to the Promised Land.  

As your rabbi, my math might not be perfectly accurate, however, for the purposes of soulful Jewish growth, consider the following mathematical calculations.  In the 39 books of the TaNaKh, I counted 929 chapters.  929 chapters divided by 3 chapters per day = 310 days to read the entire TaNaKh.  If we read 6 days per week, we will read the entire TaNaKh in less than 365 days!

Will you spend 15 minutes per day on your Jewish soul and intellect?  Will you join Rabbi Fred and me?  We will begin on Shabbat, March 24, and hope dozens of you will engage in Torah learning too.  If you do not have a good, readable text, go to Frank’s Hebrew Bookstore and buy a JPS TaNaKh. I would suggest a small calendar to “check off” each day of reading. Please call the Temple office and let me know “I’m in, Rabbi!”

We have created a Facebook Page, called 3 Chapters a Day. You are encouraged to Like that page and join in the discussion.

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