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What happens when you have nothing to say in Torah? When another great parsha flies by and you have nothing of note to offer? 

There are several versions of a story in which a king issues a sort of request for proposals from local artists, and the winner will decorate the palace. They will display their wares by decorating a small wing of the palace, and if the king likes their work, they’ll get the contract. In the end, one of the artists provides elaborate tapestries, murals, and the like, and the other offers a mirror that simply reflects the first artist’s work. Surprisingly, the king respects the second “artist’s” work. Not sure if he “wins”, but he is certainly not executed.



Maybe the moral of the story is that sometimes you’ve got something to say, and sometimes you’ve got nothing original to say, but you’ve found someone who does, and you provide a great service by calling attention to it. 

This is not dissimilar to someone who searches the racks of thrift stores to find clothes and things that can be sold in their boutique. It takes a huge amount of skill to find the right things, things that simply need to be presented in the right context, or framed properly. or translated. And sometimes a Torah source needs to simply be found, dusted off, and presented in a modern idiom for us to realize just how useful, inspiring, and impacting it can be.

It is not essential to have something clever to say, to have some new spin to offer. It is also incredibly useful to say, “I found this piece from Rav Kook that is rocking my world” or “this Seforno has completely changed my view on the gender dynamics of 16th-century Italy” or “I thought I understood the nature of reality until I got wind of this Midrash.” 

It can be even more useful (and a lot more vulnerable) to add “and this is how I’m reacting to it” or “this is what I want to do” or “now I am seeing things through the following lens” or the like. 

Maybe throw in some “what are your thoughts on this?” or “does this align with your view of gender dynamics in 16th-century Italy?” or the like.

My point is that there are so many great texts out there. So many great things have been said, and amplifying those things is a great service to offer. One should feel proud that one has found something relevant to share with others, rather than feel embarrassed for not having found something “original” to say.