The Book of Our Life

This week’s Dvar Torah on Parshat Bemidbar was written by Rabbi Laila Haas,Director of Adult Learning and Growth at CAJE and Rabbi Norman Lipson, who will be teaching "Poetry for Fun and Prophet" this summer.

 For current Adult Learning class offerings and to register, visit 

Jewish time is a beautiful thing. This week, we welcome Shabbatby opening a new book of Torah, Numbers, with the reading ofParshat BemidbarAs Shabbatconcludes on Saturday evening we begin the festival of Shavuot,celebrating the receiving of Torahat Mt. Sinai. Shabbat begins with opening a new book, and as it concludes we find ourselves at the base of the mountain ready to renew the covenant with the Divine. The Torah contains within it the story of how we came to be and the essence of what we strive to become. Within the pages, and verses are the stories of our ancestors and the guiding principles of what it means to be Am Yisrael, the people of Israel. At Sinai, we became a link in a chain of tradition extending from generation to generation. We recall the stories, teach the values, and guide our lives by the precepts.

When thinking about the chapters and verses of his life, Rabbi Norman Lipson, our very own Melton & More faculty member, penned a collection of over 100 poems. His book, "How Many Memories Make a Minyan”, is based on personal observations, poignant moments and memories that reflect on contemporary Jewish lifestyles, as well as the holiness and ironic beauty of everyday situations. As we prepare for this sacred weekend of Torah, we think about the words and pages that make up our own “Sefer Chayim”, book of life. What are the stories that you pass down l’dor va’dor, generation to generation? What are the values, principles and precepts that you hold dear?What are the memories that make you smile and the ones that make you wipe a tear?

Rabbi Lipson reminds us that “Life is like a book, you have to keep turning the pages…”. On this Shabbat, we are pleased to share with you one of his poems, “Sefer Chayim”, Book of Life. As you reflect on his words, know that there is an inspiring collection of poetry that awaits you. You have a unique opportunity to join Rabbi Lipson this summer, for his course “Poetry for Fun and Prophet”,where you will explore his compilation of personal, irreverent, thought provoking and contemporary poetry. Click here to learn more and to sign up! Join us around the table for a summer of meaningful, relevant and dynamic Jewish learning. 

Sefer Chayim

(Book of Life)


“Life is like a book;

you have to keep turning the pages…”.


At first

I flipped the pages carelessly

Pausing here skipping there

for it was a very large book

And it had many pages

In time

A sentence here, a statement there

a story somewhere else

that proved quite apt

For it was a long book and had many pages.


The stories improved

(much to my surprise)

Its photos: color

Its dialogues: brilliant

With plots involved and intertwined so well

the author’s skilled touch

Was apparent to all who wished to see.


There aren’t as many pages left

as before

And those that remain,

I savor

 ~ Rabbi Norman Lipson,
How Many Memories Make A Minyan.

Shabbat Shalom!


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