The Torah Cycle & Making an Omelet
I’ve been making omelets for the greater part of my life, my first omelet was probably constructed sometime in my youth between five and eight years old. Back then I would take advantage of my grandparent’s sleep cycle and make pancakes and little smokies for breakfast, often times with a tense moment of fear when they woke up until they realized I didn’t burn the house down and relaxed. During this time I watched a lot of PBS, for the most part it was the normal kid’s stuff, like Sesame Street, Mister Roger’s and the like; I also watched Julia Child’s cooking show. It was that show that kindled the fire within me to cook new and different things, it was the information imparted to me, through the show, that influenced me to make decisions in cooking that often turned out well. All in part because I watched a learning show where a silly woman, from a child’s perspective, was teaching other adults how to cook. From this point I suppose this could turn into a message about teaching children Torah and how it will stay with them forever, but this is very much for the adult.
Every year the Torah cycle starts in Genesis and then treks through Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and is wrapped up with Deuteronomy. Every week there is a portion that is read and studied and with it there is Haftarah and the B’rit Chadasha portion. The same thing every year. The same thing every year. When you put it this way it sounds monotonous. Who wants to do the same thing every year? What’s the point in that? After all, Torah never changes. It’s not like next year we’re going to be reading Exodus and something new is going to be discovered, right? Wrong. While it’s true that Torah never changes that doesn’t hold the same for you and I. We do change, and this is especially true when we submit ourselves to instruction. That’s exactly what Torah is, instruction. Anything that we allow to enter into us can change us, but when we purposefully and actively seek instruction it’s more apt to effect that change. As we consume Torah we’re opening ourselves up to change and when that change happens we not only become better, because Torah is good, we become a more capable consumer of Torah the next time around. This is true for Torah as the first five books of Scripture and for the entirety of it from Genesis through Revelation. Take, for example, the portion we studied weeks ago in Exodus 24 and read this part of it,
‘9 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up.
10 They saw the God of Israel, and under His feet was something like a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the very heavens.
11 Yet He did not raise His hand against the nobles of Bnei-Yisrael. So they beheld God, and ate and drank.
12 Then Adonai said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and stay there, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the Torah and the mitzvot, which I have written so that you may instruct them.”
13 So Moses rose up along with his attendant Joshua, and Moses went up onto the mountain of God.
14 To the elders he said, “Wait for us here until we come back to you. See, Aaron and Hur are with you—whoever has a dispute should go to them. ”
15 When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it.’
Anyone who has read Exodus knows this account, the elders ate with the Lord and then Moses got up and went higher into the mountain where he and God did their important business. Now I’ve read Exodus a few times, I know the account, case closed and there’s nothing more to learn, right? Wrong. Despite the reality that I’d read this portion the year before, and had even before then, I’d not registered that Joshua got up with Moses to do business with the Lord. It’s that fact that proves my point. Even though I’d done it before, read the Scripture, I’d not registered that detail. Had any one of you told me that, Moses and Joshua left the table and the others went down the mountain, I would’ve had to look for myself. Even though I’d read it before, I didn’t get it before. Now to be honest with you I have to admit that knowing that Joshua went up with Moses to further converse with God hasn’t been an earthmoving life changing experience for me, but it has served to illustrate the point of this message. So could it be more life changing than I originally thought it? What does this have to do with Julia Child and omelets?
All those years ago I learned how to make an omelet the right way and as my memory of the initial instruction faded, with trial and error, I made quite a few pretty decent omelets. As years passed I kept making omelets, some better than others, a few of them were epically awesome, some were terrible abominations of omeletdom, and some were just caked together scrambled eggs. Most all of these creations required copious amounts of ketchup to cover their inadequacies. Then for some reason I decided to watch Julia Child’s omelet making instruction again, some of the very same video I’d seen decades before, and now I’m making pretty fantastic omelets. That instruction didn’t change; I did. We’re going to change no matter what we do. We can expose ourselves to Torah once and then walk away and it might have somewhat of a positive influence on our lives. We can expose ourselves to Torah year after year, even though it doesn’t change, and it can be both the foundation for how we see the rest of Scripture and an effector of change truly enhancing our lives, bringing us closer to the Lord through His Word.
The choice is yours. Always.