Jerusalem–“Torah and the Land of Israel were said in a single utterance. They are two inseparable companions.” These words, written by Rabbi Yissachar Teichtel in opening to his landmark Religious Zionist work Em Habanim Semecha, describe the quintessential connection between Israel and Judaism, one which is much deeper than its standing as the Jewish State. When one lives in Israel, Torah comes to life.
To celebrate this connection, a new initiative was recently launched called the “929 Project.” Its goal is to unite Jews around the world in their study of Torah by learning a chapter together each day in order to finish all 26 books (totaling 929 chapters) of Tanach (the Written Law) by Israel’s 70th Independence Day on May 2, 2017. A gala mesibat siyyum (completion ceremony and party) will take place in Israel at that time, with the thousands who are expected to participate coming together to celebrate Torah and Israel, and their sacred connection.
The “929 Project,” spearheaded by well-known Judaic scholar Rabbi Binyamin Lau, aims to help bring the Torah alive in more ways by including many multi-media, scientific, and pop-culture material that help in understanding and appreciating the scripture, available on the project’s website 929.org.il or through its mobile phone application.
Though most of this online content is only available in Hebrew, even those who don’t understand the language can definitely appreciate the videos and news articles shown with each day’s chapter. For example, on the day that the fourth chapter of Bereshit, which tells the story of Cain and Abel, was learned, the multimedia content included a Bruce Springsteen video, a news article about “Meat is Murder,” several pieces of artwork, and a song about Chava’s pain at losing her son–aside, of course, from summaries and deeper analysis by Rabbi Lau and his contemporaries. The website also has a running timeline, helping readers place the day’s chapter in the bigger picture of ancient history.
Aside from the technicalities, the project has a deeper goal–to bring Jews of the world together in their study of the Torah. On the 929.org.il website, the project’s vision is revealed: “One chapter, every day, according to the cycle: everyone reading together, each by themselves–on the application, Internet, or with a Tanach in their hands; on the train, in a caf? in the morning, or at night in bed; with friends, with children, or as a personal goal.” The study of Torah is for everyone, and this project aims to open the doors so that all can enjoy the Written Law, wherever they are and whatever level of study they are on.
Even though the cycle began on December 21 with the first chapter of the Torah, there is still ample time to join and catch up, for anyone who’d like to join this historic first cycle of joint reading of the Tanach. Even though it is not a short-term project by any stretch of the imagination, learning Torah in this way will without a doubt strengthen understanding and appreciation for the Written Law, and completing all 929 chapters of the 26 books through daily study will be a truly amazing accomplishment.
To conclude with the words of the project’s founders: “929 calls on you to go and reveal again the richness of the most best-selling book in the history of the world. To listen to it, to speak to it, to find ourselves in it and find it within us, and to expose what happened in the Tanach and see what it offers us here and now.”
For more information on this groundbreaking initiative, and to sign up for the daily Tanach project, please visit www.929.org.il.
By Tzvi Silver
(JLNJ Israel Correspondent)