Welcome to Life is a Sacred Text.
Hi, I’m Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg. I’ll be your cruise director.
Come along on a fresh, expansive, loving, everybody-celebrating, nobody-diminished voyage into one of the world’s most ancient and holy books. It’s a book about which a lot of people have a lot of Big Feelings, to be sure—but I believe, passionately, that despite the fact that it’s been used as a bludgeon by too many people over the centuries, it’s really a roadmap for transformation in all the most critical of ways.
Yeah, I’m talking about the Five Books of Moses.
The stories of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy can, chapter by chapter, help us to do the work we must do to become the people we are meant to be; can help us to become more useful to a world in need; can sustain us and nurture us as we do this work; can give us better tools to meet the inevitable challenges along the way.
This a project for everyone—for Jews and non-Jews, for people who believe in God, people who don’t, and people who are kind of *shrug emoji* on the subject.
This Substack is an exploration into these stories, a meditation, a chance to see our own lives more clearly by looking at them through the lens of these tales—to catch ourselves reflected back, to illuminate what might have been hard to discern.
Your life is a sacred text.
It can be read in so many ways.
This, maybe, is one of them.
As for me, I’m the award-winning author of eight books, most recently ON REPENTANCE: REPAIR AND AMENDS IN AN UNAPOLOGETIC WORLD, which is about the work of repentance in our personal lives, the public square, in institutions and on the national level. I’ve written for outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Newsweek, Time and others, and have the profound honor of serving as Scholar in Residence at National Council of Jewish Women. My pronouns are she/her. Would love to have you come hang out with me here.
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For more of everything—archives, guided text study, open discussion threads, more musings, Ask The Rabbi threads, guest posts and building community through applying the biggest questions to our own lives—join the Life is a Sacred Text community.
And, to be frank, I put a lot of labor into this project—a lot of time, a lot of years of learning and thinking, of writing and rewriting and double-checking sources into this. I believe in an ethos of paying people for their work (especially in religion spaces, where there can be an entitlement around clergy time and energy). If you love this newsletter, get value out of it, and believe in paying people for their work, consider a paid subscription.
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