The Sifrei Kodesh, Our Holy Books

Like all shtiblach, Nehar Shalom has its share of old and worn holy books, sifre kodesh. As a new shtibl, though, ours have not become worn and acquired venerable status under the hand and gaze of our own members learning through night and through day. Our s’forim, these lovingly received books, have come to us from other shuls, already long invested with their own stories and the stories of those who pored over them. They are at once receptors and transmitters of the stories of those who earlier caressed them, who held them and loved them when they were young volumes, strong and straight of spine. Old and fragile now, these books carry in the folds of their creased and yellowed leaves the tears and sighs of those whose wrinkled skin long ago turned to dust, whose souls were gathered upon a time to sleep with their ancestors. These sacred tomes that repose upon our shelves tell stories far beyond the teachings of the words imprinted on their pages.

At night I often find my way into the shtibl and sit down at a table with one or another of these books, sitting often with little more light than the glow of the ner tamid, the eternal light above the Holy Ark. In I-Thou encounter, if I open my heart enough to hear, in measured telling through hint and sign, from behind a veil at times, they begin to reveal in whispers of night their stories.

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