“Rejoicing in the Torah” doesn’t require us to find joy in every verse.
It doesn’t mean that we concur with every choice made by the people in it.
It doesn’t demand that we defend the indefensible or excuse the inexcusable.
It doesn’t imply that we should be happy about passages that break our hearts.
Rejoicing in the Torah is found in the freedom to study it when, where, and with whom we wish.
We experience happiness with it when we wrestle with its conflicts and struggle with its challenges.
It becomes a source of gladness when even its most disturbing passages increase our desire to do good.
“It is a tree of life” when we treat all life with care, a “light to the eyes” when we look where we are going, a “path of peace” when it inspires us to work for a better world.
As we restart the process of reading it, let our renewed study bring newfound hope, meaning, and joy.
May this be our blessing and let us say:
Rabbi David Wirtschafter is the rabbi of Temple Adath Israel in Lexington, KY.