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dare to be inspired

07/09/2020 09:43:29 AM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

One book. The reading of one book inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to create the lyrics and music that became “Hamilton”. Lost in the acclaim of the musical is that the idea germinated after he read a book, “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow. If ever there might be an advertisement to encourage reading, this is it.

Reading and a love of reading does not suddenly show up. It must be carefully tended with the proper infrastructure: a home life that can support and encourage reading; an opportunity for a quality education; libraries (in schools and communities) and librarians; the time and interest to read for pleasure.  Without these elements, it is unlikely that Lin-Manuel Miranda might have been inspired to create “Hamilton”. In the end, he did so because he read a book.

I was fortunate to have a large library in my high school, but I came to high school already carrying a love of reading instilled by my parents.  I also had a talented librarian (Miss Romanovsky [sp?] I believe), who taught me the skills necessary to research a paper, including the proper way to footnote, paraphrase and craft a bibliography. These skills served me well throughout high school, college and graduate school.  It all centered around books.

The Jewish people not only taught humanity about one God who created heaven and earth and introduced the concept of a day off, aka Shabbat.  We also shared the most incredible book, literally a series of books – the Hebrew Bible. It teaches us that we are all evolved from one set of parents, that our ancestors were human and made mistakes, but tried to live up to high expectations to be the best possible self through the observance of mitzvot.  While I have always revered the Hebrew Bible, the older I get, the more my respect grows.  The Psalms have become my source of comfort and hope. The successes and failures of major personalities challenge me to do my best, knowing that while I might occasionally fail like they did sometimes, I’m compelled to give my best effort.  The call to justice from the prophets inspire me. The faith of Job reassures me in my faith.

All of us have the opportunity to be inspired by The Book just as Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspired by “Alexander Hamilton”.  We at the Tree of Life offer regular opportunities to pray and study together throughout the week. To those who have participated so far, thank you. To those who have not yet, you are most warmly invited to dare to be inspired.  My Zoom box is open and awaits you.

Tue, August 11 2020 21 Av 5780