by Shefa Gold
Torah as a guide to personal growth
Following the framework of the ancient tradition of weekly Torah reading, Shefa Gold shows us how to find blessing, challenge and the opportunity for spiritual transformation in each portion of Torah. An inspiring guide to exploring the landscape of Scripture... and recognizing that landscape as the story of your life.
Torah Journeys: The Inner Path to the Promised Land promises to turn the year-long cycle of Torah reading into a journey of personal spiritual growth. The first book by Rabbi Shefa Gold, the popular teacher of chant and meditation, Torah Journeys is designed to be meaningful for those at any spiritual level.
Shefa Gold is renowned in Jewish Renewal circles and beyond for her teachings, particularly in the realms of chanting, meditation, and connecting to the sacred. She received rabbinical ordinations from both the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Salomi.
In Torah Journeys, Rabbi Gold reveals a blessing and a challenge hidden in each weekly Torah portion, based on her principle that the Torah is happening now, and that its stories – from the Creation in Genesis through the death of Moses at the end of Deuteronomy – are about each individual’s life journey.
Drawing from her spiritual search as an adept in an array of practices, Rabbi Gold offers transformative practices for each week, ranging from meditation to visualization to chant.
Torah Journeys is the fruit of the religious journey of an engaging teacher with an impressive grasp of the texts and liturgy. Having experienced other traditions inspired Rabbi Gold to search out similar tools in Judaism to expand consciousness, become fully human and know God Rabbi Gold shares with us her insightful approach to Bible study and personal growth. The result is poetry for the soul.
Torah Journeys is a book that is not merely about Jewish Renewal, but in fact, gives the reader tools to do it.
Destined to be a classic of Jewish spiritual renewal.
Rabbi Shefa Gold is a leader in ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal and is the director of C-DEEP, the Center for Devotional, Energy and Ecstatic Practice in Jemez Springs, New Mexico.
Shefa received ordination both from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi.
Shefa composes and performs spiritual music, has produced eleven albums, and her liturgies have been published in several new prayerbooks. She teaches workshops and retreats on the theory and art of Chanting, Devotional Healing, Spiritual Community building and Meditation.
Shefa combines her grounding in Judaism with a background in Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, and Native American spiritual traditions to make her uniquely qualified as a spiritual bridge celebrating the shared path of devotion.
Torah Journeys is her first book. Her second, In the Fever of Love: An Illumination of the Song of Songs, is forthcoming form Ben Yehuda Press
The challenge of Torah, and why I wrote Torah Journeys
a personal essay by Rabbi Shefa Gold
Our generation, like each generation of Jews before us, must enter into the holy conversation of our tradition. It is a conversation that takes place across time and distance, and it dies if we refuse to hold up our end.
We must reach in to Torah, into the treasure of our inheritance, in search of answers to the questions of our time.
We bring to this conversation our dilemmas – the crises of body, heart, mind and soul that so urgently call.As you seek to join this conversation, you must be careful of this common and insidious misunderstanding: You might think that receiving is a passive thing, that the truth is already formed, that someone else’s Torah will speak to you, and that the Torah of the past will suffice. You might think that our tradition is inexorably fixed, and if it doesn’t fit your sensibilities, then you are free to look elsewhere.
But that is to misunderstand that our tradition is a conversation, and that a conversation includes all who participate.
When we reach in to Torah, we receive its essence through word, music, or story, and then mingle that essence with our own desire. That mingling happens in the innermost reaches of the heart. To participate in this process we must cultivate and nurture an inner life. And we must create a life that is spacious enough that we can pay attention to the subtle shiftings of the heart, to the still small voice that is forever whispering to us the truth of who we are becoming. “HaYom,” you will experience the infi nite treasure of this present moment,” promises the psalmist, “Im b’kolo tishma-u,” if only you would listen to that voice.
Reaching in to the Torah means participating in a process, and becoming part of the conversation. It requires digging down beneath the soil of your everyday life and fi nding its holiness.
A student, expecting to hear a profound and esoteric answer, asked his Rebbe, “How can I best serve God?”The Rebbe replied, “You can best serve God with whatever you are doing at the moment.”
And here is the challenge: How can I make my life holy, moment by moment?
“The first Jewish Renewal commentary on the Torah”
New Jersey Jewish News
“One of the year's best Jewish books”
“If you dare be addressed by God—read it. If you dare be transformed by God—practice it.”
Rabbi Rami Shapiro
“Rabbi Gold opens each Torah portion in profound new ways, pointing the way for us to find the Torah’s most usable blessings, spiritual challenges and sustained practices for our own journeys.” Rabbi Tirzah Firestone
"No other contemporary teacher I know presents Scripture as so hands-on-accessible a tool for transforming personal suffering into happiness."
Sylvia Boorstein, Author of It's Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness
"Deep study and contemplation went into the writing of this work. Reb Shefa takes you into the House of Study of the heart and the soul and in this way engages the sacred creativity of the spirit.
"Reading her Torah teachings one becomes attuned to the voice of the Shekhinnah, the feminine aspect of God which brings needed healing to our wounded world."
Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
co-author of Jewish With Feeling and Credo Of A Modern Kabbalist
"In the days to come a new covenant will be written for us, one that is carved not in stone but in our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33).
These are those days. This is that covenant.
What Rabbi Gold has done is bring Torah into the heart.
If you dare be addressed by God -- read it. If you dare be transformed by God -- practice it.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro
Author of The Divine Feminine
"Torah Journeys is a remarkable book of profound depth. It has taught me much, drawing as the author does from the wells of different faith traditions in her life. Rabbi Shefa Gold is adept at teaching us how to grow spiritually using the Torah as the inexhaustible source. Please read this book if you too want to grow."
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
"This book manifests the strength and insight that happens when women enter the ministry--whether as rabbis, priests or ministers. Wisdom happens. Fresh insight. Mysticism matters. Heart and head come together and carry us on wings like great birds to places we need to go. Even old places and familiar texts we thought we knew come alive again in this book of substance and deep spiritual refreshment. Here experience takes precedence over tired and literal dogmatic pronouncements and life comes alive again."
Theologian Matthew Fox, author of A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of Christianity
"Torah Journeys is a beautiful gift for Torah teachers and students alike.
In it, Rabbi Gold opens each Torah portion in profound, new ways, pointing the way for us to find the Torah's most usable blessings, spiritual challenges, and sustainable practices for our own journeys. In Torah Journeys, Torah becomes a mirror for our lives and a tool for personal transformation."
Rabbi Tirzah Firestone, Jungian Therapist and Author of The Receiving: Reclaiming Jewish Women's Wisdom and With Roots in Heaven: One Woman's Passionate Journey Into The Heart of Her Faith
"No other contemporary [teacher] I know presents Scripture as so hands-on-accessible a tool for transforming personal suffering into happiness. By offering so generously of her own life experience, Rabbi Gold--in a voice that is authoritative, hopeful, witty, knowledgeable, gracious and humble--provides a model that readers across the boundaries of religious lineages and at all levels of religious education can use to change their own lives."
Sylvia Boorstein, author of It's Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness
"Rabbi Shefa Gold has a marvelous talent to touch a reader's soul through contemplative insights and practices that resonate at the core of one's being.
Her book, Torah Journeys is a wonderful opportunity to discover the depths of Jewish wisdom teachings through the guidance of a teacher who brings a perfect combination of heartfulness and skillfulness along with a passion for profound spiritual inquiry."
Rabbi David A Cooper, author of God is a Verb
"The very word "torah" is from the ancient Hebrew vocabulary of archery. It means not the bull's eye, not the archer, not the arrow, but the process of aiming. This is what Rabbi Shefa Gold has given us -- the truthful, artful aiming at the soul within. Within the Torah, and within each reader. ."
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, co-author, The Tent of Abraham; author, Godwrestling — Round 2; director, The Shalom Center