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Hatanach Beyadeinu/התנך בידינו- Take the 929 challenge

“We will return to you, twenty-four books of Tanakh, and you will return to us….”

It’s been Three and a half years and the Tanach cycle has just been completed. 24 Books. 929 Chapters. 1,301 Days.( Not to mention the many hours and minutes-leave it personal to the learning individual.)

The chapters of these books are what unites the nation of Israel around the world-and even many other humans of interfaith at large. Three thousand years ago we all stood at Sinai together. There were well over a million people. This was a newly formed people and a nation-cementing the covenant with Hashem and taking our oath to spend our lives learning and living, preserving and persevering a Toraidic way of life until death do us part..

And all was good-for a while. And then, thousands of years of history happened while  the 929 chapters accompanied us throughout  history in various fashions and formats, with some of us turning more pages, some of us less and some none at all.

Tanach has always fascinated so many people. Many of those people have lived by it and many have died by it. While tragically, many were  martyred by it. For some, it seemed to be out of their reach altogether. This is very intriguing, as the verses in sefer Devarim tell us the exact opposite.

כִּ֚י הַמִּצְוָ֣ה הַזֹּ֔את אֲשֶׁ֛ר אָנֹכִ֥י מְצַוְּךָ֖ הַיּ֑וֹם לֹא־נִפְלֵ֥את הִוא֙ מִמְּךָ֔ וְלֹ֥א רְחֹקָ֖ה הִֽוא׃ Surely, this Instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach.

לֹ֥א בַשָּׁמַ֖יִם הִ֑וא לֵאמֹ֗ר מִ֣י יַעֲלֶה־לָּ֤נוּ הַשָּׁמַ֙יְמָה֙ וְיִקָּחֶ֣הָ לָּ֔נוּ וְיַשְׁמִעֵ֥נוּ אֹתָ֖הּ וְנַעֲשֶֽׂנָּה׃ It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?”

וְלֹא־מֵעֵ֥בֶר לַיָּ֖ם הִ֑וא לֵאמֹ֗ר מִ֣י יַעֲבׇר־לָ֜נוּ אֶל־עֵ֤בֶר הַיָּם֙ וְיִקָּחֶ֣הָ לָּ֔נוּ וְיַשְׁמִעֵ֥נוּ אֹתָ֖הּ וְנַעֲשֶֽׂנָּה׃ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?”

כִּֽי־קָר֥וֹב אֵלֶ֛יךָ הַדָּבָ֖ר מְאֹ֑ד בְּפִ֥יךָ וּבִֽלְבָבְךָ֖ לַעֲשֹׂתֽוֹ׃ {ס}     No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it.

And so, seemingly, the people need to put forth the effort, not even too much, as the divine will intervene, pushing us forward and making  it seem like the effort is not nearly as great as the benefits.

On December 2014 Tanakh B’yachad was excitingly announced by the Israeli Education Ministry(Hebrew: Bible Together, 929 – תנך ביחד). It was a project for learning one chapter of Tanach per day (except Friday and Shabbat), totaling 5 chapters per week. The name ‘929’ refers to the total number of chapters in the Tanakh.

The first cycle was completed on April 18, 2018, coinciding with Israel’s 70th Independence Day.

Then the second cycle began and something incredible happened worldwide. A fantastic Hebrew and English website and app were introduced to put the learning literally in the palm of one’s hand. 

The establishment of the 929 project was introduced. It was founded by Rav Benny Lau. Lord Rav Jonathan Saks A”H became the International president. Alongside these paramount individuals worked a dedicated staff of  rabbis, educators, students, scholars, writers, poets, artists, academics, and historians. Each day’s chapter was laden with a wealth of podcasts, thoughts,and ideas to peruse, ponder, learn, research as much or as little as one wants for anytime of the day or saved to come back to at any time as well.

This was done for the Hebrew Speaking public at large. as for the English Speakers, one just clicks on the English site or registers to begin in English which takes one to a marvelously similar assortment, an equally awesome site. The director of the English site is Rabbi Adam Mintz. Dr. Jeremy Bernstein is the English editor and Shira Hecht Koller Esquire (and my fabulous sister in law) is the Director of Education. Alongside these phenomenal leaders are their champion scholars, academics, historians, and writers.

In a recent Tablet podcast 929 Director of Education Shira Hech Koller expanded that  the daily english site offers  5 -15 short accessible explanatory reflectioonary pieces of that day’s Tanach Chapter with  daily reflections, creative readings, and pluralistic interpretations by a wide range of scholars, public intellectuals, novelists, poets, artists,rabbis, educators, students and more. 929 English is cross denominational and crosses geographic lines offering an array of different perspectives.
And so, this amazing educational enterprise has made the accessibility of the learning of Tanach unprecedented.

As we were Misayem the cycle this past Thursday night by Zoom in Hebrew and inspirational video in English, there was a euphoric feeling among the thousands of us who completed this incredible feat and reached this accomplishment. We were all able to turn and learn together across the globe, the pages of  the chapters of Tanach, many of which, those we had never opened or learned yet  in our lifetime. 

Hatanach Beyadeinu/ התנ”ך בידינו

And so, now one just needs to recommit to that Sinaic Oath that we all took together way back when…

929 -10001 pages -3.5 years- The 929 Challenge– Come on and take it!

Opening day Sunday feb 6th, 2022. Take the 929 challenge. I dare you! You need to enable JavaScript to run this app. ביאור הרב עדין אבן ישראל שטיינזלץ בראשית ב פרק ב (א) וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ וְכָל־צְבָאָם׃ (ב) וַיְכַל אֱלֹהִים בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי מְלַאכְתּוֹ ...

מה זה 929? - YouTube

About the Author
Phyllis Hecht is living in Chashmonaim with her family since their Aliyah-17.5 years ago from Queens, NY. She is a Judaic studies teacher with an MA in Holocaust studies. Phyllis has a teudat Horaah in teaching English and a license in special education reading recovery. She is also a licensed debating teacher. She has taught business English in Israel and abroad and has taught Holocaust and Judaic studies classes in Israel. Phyllis is currently a High school English teacher and Debating coach at the Zeitlin High school in Tel Aviv.
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