A Letter in the Scroll

The principal of general studies during my high school tenure began her career as “Ms. Marion Peterson”. She had worked in the Catholic school system for years before coming to YULA, and she was devoutly religious. By the time I graduated, Ms. Peterson was on her way to a Jewish conversion, and a few years later the letterhead read “Principal of General Studies; Ms. Miriam Peterson.”

I remember many of the conversations I had with her, most of which revolved around my confusion and shock as to why she would pursue being Jewish. I was also envious that she had a choice – something I wanted myself. I resented that being Jewish was something you had to accept if you were born into it, and I didn’t believe that I personally had a role that was necessary – certainly not essential – to the Jewish nation. Over the years I gathered pieces that helped me cope and reconcile these feelings – but my inner discontent began to really dissipate when I read A Letter in the Scroll. In this book, Rabbi Sacks addresses the question that had vexed me for years – mainly, how could Moshe make a covenant at Sinai for all future generations? How could those not yet born be bound by a covenant they were not present to accept? Rabbi Sacks addresses this issue passionately, honestly, and without apologetics.    

I cannot think of a more fitting book to read as we approach the holiday of Shavuot.

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