Torah - the Jewish lodestar

A reflection on the Torah as the Jews’ GPS, was a theme touched upon by several speakers at this year’s Sinai Indaba. Among the 11, primarily American speakers, were acclaimed relationship instructor, Slovie Jungreis Wolff, daughter of Rebbetzen Esther Jungreis; Rebbetzen Rivkah Slonim broadly respected as a “Chassidic feminist” and award-winning comedy writer - known and celebrated for his work on series like The Simpsons, Third Rock from the Sun and Murphy Brown - David Sacks, who was there by electronic proxy.
by ROBYN SASSEN | Jun 18, 2014

 Unable to be in South Africa, he conducted his hugely attended 45 minute talk via Skype.

Centring her talk on what happens between the time when brides and grooms “are beautifully in love” at the chuppah and when they’re bickering toward divorce, she told the story of Adam and Eve to explain how to make good marriage great.

Narrating how the snake tempted Adam and Eve to break rules, she called it one of the first pitfalls of marriage - the “’what if” factor, which can cause a married partner’s eye to digress”.

At the climax of the story, where Adam and Eve are banished by G-d from the Garden of Eden, she added that blaming other people for one’s behaviour is never an option.

“So what did Adam do? He looked at this woman and he says: ‘From now on maybe we won’t be in this Garden of Eden, but together we are going to create another Garden of Eden.’” The moral of the story is that we all make mistakes. We must have the ability to forgive ourselves and start again. “One of the most difficult emotions in marriage is regret.”

“I submit that the most succinct way to wrap up our challenge in the spiritual realm is we think of ourselves as people,” posited Rebbetzen Slonim, in launching her discussion of the soul. In 45 minutes, she touched lightly on everything from prayer to reincarnation, with an understanding on the purity of the soul, considering the anomalous nature of the human being, and offering a trajectory, which too, reached all the way back to Adam and Eve.

“It’s outrageous that a piece of G-d should be able to be contained in flesh and blood. It’s all about struggle and we should embrace that.”

Constantly bearing a smile on his face, Sacks explained how he began his career as an elevator operator. His career as a writer grew and burgeoned in unanticipated ways. The challenge of doing good work and keeping Shabbos was central to his talk and pivotal in how he had the chutzpah to determine his own path and make rules which brought him a unique respect from his non-Jewish contemporaries and professional superiors.

Speaking of the mottled butterfly which flies seasonally and generationally between Mexico and Canada, he said: “This is the story of the Jewish people. Whenever a Jew walks, he is walking toward Israel. Intuitively, we understand where we are going. G-d has invented the most amazing GPS system within ourselves.”


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