The Word Is What Endures

For nearly 30 years, I have been writing the “Musings” column of roughly 200 words each week for The Jewish Week. In time, these columns went out electronically as well, titled “Off the Pulpit” and now appear in The Times of Israel. The Jewish Week is going digital, so this will be the final column to appear in an actual “paper.”

This week leads up to Tisha b’Av. (Wait, there is a connection here!) The destruction of the Temple forced the Jews to transcend the physical message. We had to contend with the destruction of our central structure and recognize that the word could outlast any building.

In our history, therefore, the message has taken many forms: stone tablets, papyrus, scrolls, books and now pixels. Each change is a loss but also a reminder: the word is what endures, not the shape in which it is crafted or housed. The Psalmist (Psalm 137) cries, “How shall we sing a new song in a strange land?” But we have sung in every land over this vast globe. We will miss the actual Jewish Week paper, but while venues change nothing will stop us from talking, arguing, singing, preaching and praying.

Note: I want to express my deepest appreciation to Gary Rosenblatt and Rob Goldblum, who shepherded the column for all these years.

About the Author
Named the most influential Rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post, David Wolpe is the Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California.