Shayna Goldberg

Torah, my anchor

Photo by Grant Durr on Unsplash

As strong winds blow from all directions
And stormy waters toss us back and forth,
It is easy to feel untethered and lost.

Sometimes we float aimlessly,
Looking for direction,
A captain to steer us and make us feel safe.

Other times we feel like we are sinking,
Weighed down by pain, fears and despair,
Struggling to keep our heads above the surface.

In these unchartered waters,
Torah, Judaism, mitzvot
Have been our anchor and our lifesaver.

Centering us in our present,
Grounding us in our past,
Connecting us to our future.

Shabbat arrives each week.
We close our phones, detach from the news
And center ourselves among family and friends.

We slow down, relax a little,
Learn some Torah, hear the weekly portion
And bring God into our lives.

Each holiday in the annual cycle
Brings meaning and opportunity for reflection
And grounds us in the rich history of our nation.

We tell our story,
Remind ourselves of the narrative
And take comfort in the awareness that we have been here before.

Our prayers give structure to our day,
Morning, afternoon and night,
And connect us to lifelong hopes, dreams and aspirations.

A brit milah, a bat mitzvah—new life, a growing child,
A wedding, a new couple, a broken glass,
And an acceptance of the complexities of life.

Even a funeral–the ripped garment, the week of shiva,
The endless stream of visitors, the words shared,
Tether us and move us forward when we feel adrift.

This Shavuot, I will rejoice in our receiving of the Torah.
With a new appreciation of the way it
Catches us when we are falling.

Steadies us when we are unbalanced,
Holds us tight when we are unhinged,
Gives us light when all is dark.

Connects us to community when we are alone,
Infuses us with meaning when we feel empty,
Offers gimmers of hope when we despair.

Torah reminds us who we are and who we strive to be,
Of the lives that we are fighting to live,
And anchors us to eternity when we wonder what tomorrow will bring.

לולי תורתך שעשעי אז אבדתי בעניי
לעולם לא אשכח פקודיך כי הם חייתני (תהילים קיט:צב-צג)

Had Your Torah not been my delight, I should have perished in my affliction.
Never shall I forget your precepts, for by them You have given me life. (Psalms 119:92-93)

Chag Sameach.

About the Author
Shayna Goldberg (née Lerner) teaches Israeli and American post-high school students and serves as mashgicha ruchanit in the Stella K. Abraham Beit Midrash for Women in Migdal Oz, an affiliate of Yeshivat Har Etzion. She is a yoetzet halacha, a contributing editor for Deracheha: and the author of the book: "What Do You Really Want? Trust and Fear in Decision Making at Life's Crossroads and in Everyday Living" (Maggid, 2021). Prior to making aliya in 2011, she worked as a yoetzet halacha for several New Jersey synagogues and taught at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School in Teaneck. She lives in Alon Shevut, Israel, with her husband, Judah, and their five children.
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