It all came together last minute on Thursday, but we decided to go with a Black and White Shabbat theme. Here’s the backstory:

It so happens that we have a local Israeli family visiting for Shabbos, the father worked as a Sofer (scribe) in Israel. And this week’s Torah portion “Vayelech” discusses the Mitzvah of writing a Torah scroll. Letters on parchment made us think of black and white. Besides, this Shabbat falls between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, so its a transformative time – from darkness to light!

Anyone ever play Othello (or its knock-off called Reversi)? Or that old Chinese game of strategy and skill with a big board called Go? All these games have double-sided, dual-colored playing pieces, black on one side and white on the other. Players can strategically place their piece to reverse or flip a whole long row of opposite colored pieces – a truly transformative effect. Perfect for this Shabbos Shuva, when we emphasize the power and reach of Teshuva (repentance/return) transformation. 

Now a word about Torah letters:

A Torah scroll has 300,000+ letters. That’s a lot of letters! But even if only one single letter is missing, that invalidates the whole Torah! It says that every Jew is likened to a letter in a Torah scroll. A community needs everyone. No one can say, hey, there are a lot of others involved, no one needs me. That attitude won’t work. We need every letter, every person.

This also explains how each of us can fulfill the Mitzvah of writing a Torah scroll. Of course, not everyone can have their own Torah, it’s just unrealistic. But since a Torah is invalid without each of its letters, if each person purchased even one letter in a Torah scroll, it is considered as if he/she completed that scroll. The Rebbe had a big campaign for everyone to buy one letter in a Torah scroll for this reason and because it symbolizes and actualizes Jewish unity.