Embracing our story means taking it seriously, though not necessarily literally. To quote the third century Rabbi Ben Bag Bag (seriously that was name; middle school must have been hell), “Turn her and turn her for everything is in her,” (Pirke Avot 5:26). By “her” he means Torah (Torah is a feminine noun in Hebrew). Turning Torah is the central spiritual practice of our tribe, and refers to the art of creatively misreading Torah in ways that yield new meanings generation to generation.
We call this Torah lishmah, turning Torah for her own sake. Turning Torah for her own sake means that we aren’t turning her to be clever, or to impress people, or to gain financial or social reward. We turn her for the sake of making meaning, and building purpose, and in this way moving the world toward perfection. Moving the world toward perfection through the Turning of Torah is at the heart of what it is to be a Jew.