Re-Reading the Torah, 5783! Another Calendrics Blog Post
Re-Reading the Torah, 5783! Another Calendrics Blog Post
First Posted Monday, November 21, 2022 / Yom sheni, 27 Cheshvan, 5783.
David Orenstein, Emeritus, Danforth CTI, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
On a Sunday evening, about a month ago, (October 16, 2022 / Yom sheni, 22 Tishrei, 5783), I went to synagogue in-person (but masked) to join our observance of Shemeni Atzeret and the celebration of Simchat Torah.
Shemeni Atzeret (22 Tishrei), which comes just after the Jewish Fall Harvest Festival of Sukkoth (15-21 Tishrei), is a relaxed pause when we are no longer expected to eat our meals in the outdoor sukkah, but can just sigh a breath of relief.
It’s immediately followed by Simchat Torah (23 Tishrei), which can be translated as “Rejoicing in the Torah”. We celebrate God’s gift to us of the Torah by (among other things) dancing with the Torah scrolls (Sefer Torah). That Sunday there were two scrolls, one for our rabbi and one for our cantor.
Our rabbi and cantor started a round of seven circle dances, as they passed the Torah scrolls to everyone at this joyous service. Our dancing was accompanied by the cheery melodies of a klezmer ensemble.
After the joy and excitement of our dancing (luckily, I danced with the Torah to a stately waltz melody), we opened up each Sefer Torah for a reading.
We started with the scroll that had been rolled out to the very end. The last Parshah (weekly reading passage) is Ve-zo’t Ha-berakhah (“This is the Blessing”) to be found at the end of Deuteronomy / Devarim, 33.1–34.12.
The call to the Torah (aliyah) was for all who were facing an ending. I went up because the conclusion of my many History of Science deadlines, for this Fall, had come to pass earlier that day, when I submitted “Life and Works of Homer Vincent Craig (1900-1981)” to the Bulletin of the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Mathematics (CSHPM) for the November, 2022, issue. In the November 2020 issue, I had previously written an appreciation of his only full book Vector and Tensor Analysis (1943).
The link to the appreciation is in the Links section. I’ll send you the biography link once it’s published.
The other Sefer Torah had been rolled back to the very beginning: Parshah Bereshit “In the Beginning”, Genesis/Bereshit, 1.1-6.8.
Of course, this second Aliyah, was for new beginnings. I went up for this, too. After all, just in History of Science, I had many new projects to work on.
Next Spring, both CSHPM and CSHPS (Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science) will be part of the Congress of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (CFHSS) to be held at York University, May 27- June 2, 2023. The CSHPM conference will run Sunday, May 28, to Tuesday, May 30.
Not only am I preparing my own paper (“Henri Fehr and Hans Freudenthal: 20th Century Giants of International Mathematical Pedagogy”), but I’m trying to organise a joint CSHPM/CSHPS session on education, which now goes under the working title of “The History and/or Philosophy of Mathematics and/or Science Education”.
The next Shabbat would be 27 Tishrei, 5783, (Friday, October 21 / Saturday, October 22, 2022) and it was time to start our annual Torah reading cycle all over again with Parshah Bereshit.
What lessons might we historians learn from this millennial cycle of reading and rereading the same text?
Well, here are a couple of re-reading projects I’ve started recently. After I submitted my Craig bio to CSHPM, I re-engaged with his Vector and Tensor Analysis. I own one copy (1st edition, 3rd impression) which I keep in my second-floor office. I’ve also borrowed from U of T, Scarborough College’s copy (1st edition, 5th impression), which is currently waiting for me in our living room along with my JPS Tanakh. The University’s copy, judging from its inscription, once belonged to “Stephan Guttormsson”.
I’m reading both copies. Already I’m seeing connections that were invisible to me a couple of years ago.
I’ve also borrowed from the U of T Science Library both volumes of the 1928 publication of the Proceedings of the 1924 Toronto International Mathematical Congress (IMC). I plan to read them completely before the centennial in August 2024. Already, I’m finding the long list of delegates and attendees fascinating, let alone all the papers from Abstract Algebra to Nautical Engineering.
But those will be many new stories!
Previous BSHM Calendrics Posts:
Rosh Ha-Shonah 5783 post, September 6, 2022. https://www.bshm.ac.uk/my-many-new-years-another-calendrics-blog-post
Passover/Easter post, April 15, 2002. https://www.bshm.ac.uk/happy-easter-happy-passover
Previous CSTHA Calendrics Blog Posts:
Yom Kippur 5783 post, October 4, 2022. https://cstha-ahstc.ca/2022/10/04/im-sorry-ill-do-better-a-calendrics-blog-post/
Rosh Ha-Shonah 5783 post, September 29, 2022. https://cstha-ahstc.ca/2022/09/25/shana-tovah-gut-yontif-happy-new-year-5783/
Putting “Calendrics” in CSTHA “Search” function. https://cstha-ahstc.ca/?s=Calendrics
Appreciation of H.V. Craig’s Vector and Tensor Analysis in November 2020 CSHPM Bulletin. It’s on p. 12.
Proceedings of the 1924 Toronto International Mathematical Congress.
Congress 2023 Links:
CFHSS Congress 2023, May 27-June 2, 2023.
CSHPM Annual Meeting 2023 at CFHSS Congress, May 28 – May 30, 2023.
CSHPS Annual Meeting at CFHSS Congress, May 27 – May 29, 2023.
Homer Vincent Craig (1943), Vector and Tensor Analysis, McGraw-Hill, New York. xiv + 434 pp., incl. index 4 pp., four Part end biblios.
John Charles Fields (ed.) (1928),
Proceedings of the International Mathematics Congress Held in Toronto, August 11-16, 1924, University of Toronto Press, Toronto 2 vols, 935 + 1006 pp.
Rabbi David E. Sulomm Stein (ed.) (1999), JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh: The Traditional Hebrew Text and the New JPS Translation (2nd ed.), The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia. xxvii + 2039 pp., incl.
Guide to English Footnotes, 3 pp.,
Guide to Hebrew Footnotes, 3 pp.,
Table of Scriptural Readings, 6 pp.,
Index of Torah Readings, 1 p.