My Torah Guys

For my very first blog post ever, back in 2007, I really wanted to explain the title of my blog. Seemed appropriate. At the time, I was rather new at this blog stuff and had a lot to learn about the technical aspects of it, so I thought I would write a shorter post that would involve uploading a picture so I could get some practice at that. I’ve now designed a website and handle editorial for a major online publication in the field of religion, but then I was writing my dissertation longhand on legal pads. Just kidding about that last part. Here’s the picture:




I love photographs. This one is from a much-loved volume of old photos of the Holy Land (Karl Groeber, Picturesque Palestine: Arabia and Syria [New York: Brentano’s, 1925] 58), whose images rotate in a cycle of other such photos on my screen saver. It is a picture of three men sitting next to the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem. I call it “My Torah Guys.” I don’t know if that’s really a Torah the guy on the left is holding, but I like to imagine these three deeply immersed in a wonderful (and amusing) discussion about some biblical text. The guy on the left is going out on a limb with some new and nifty idea he came up with that morning. The guy on the right is listening with skepticism. See the look on his face? You can just imagine what he’s thinking: “Seriously. Come on now. You really expect me to believe THAT?!” My favorite is the guy in the middle. We’ll call him the lurker. He’s hanging out, having fun, maybe learning something. I can never decide if he’s amused or exasperated by the proceedings.

This picture makes me giggle, perhaps because it’s so much fun to speculate on what they’re discussing. I thought it appropriate to begin my blog with this photograph because I think it illustrates one of the things I value most: impassioned discussion about important (and maybe some not-so-important) things, carried out with seriousness, but also a sense of humor. You see the personalities of my Torah Guys coming through brilliantly in this picture, and I am certain they are friends. I invite you, my readers, to participate with me in such conversations. We’ll think new thoughts. We’ll challenge each other. But most of all, we’ll have fun.

A version of this post was originally published at Imaginary Grace on February 22, 2007

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