DAY 1406: Dialoguing with Torah

May 6, 2016
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1406: Dialoguing with Torah

Reflection on this Shabbat Morning’s Torah Talk with a special kiddush sponsored by Harriet Pearlman who is moving to Minnesota to be closer to family..

תלמוד תורה כנגד כולם

Talmud Torah k’neged kulam

The Study of Torah is greater than everything else

(Mishnah Peah 1:1)

Dear Hevreh,

We yearn for our actions to be purposeful, efficient, and relevant, to take advantage of every second we have in this world because there are too few to spare. It may be ironic then that the study of ancient Jewish texts is perhaps, as the quote above teaches us, the most important thing we can do as Jews, yet on the surface, studying Jewish texts is an inefficient, laborious, task to delve into topics that may be outrageous or no longer relevant. As Rabbi HayyimSoloveitchik, the son of famed Orthodox thinker Rav Joseph Soloveitchik, once wrote:

“The study of primary sources is a slow and inefficient way to acquire information, but in traditional Jewish society, the purpose of study (lernen) was not information, nor even knowledge, but a lifelong exposure to the sacred texts and an ongoing dialogue with them.”(Rupture and Reconstruction: The Transformation of Contemporary Orthodoxy, 85)

Why is studying Jewish texts so critical? Because at the heart of our learning is dialoguing, investing in a conversation with a tradition, history, and wisdom that is eternal and has withstood the test of time. Our job is to enthusiastically pursue that dialogue, to imagine our wisdom (even the stuff we don’t understand or doesn’t seem relevant to us) as a living person standing in front of us with whom we are talking and learning.

This Shabbat we say goodbye to one of our members, Harriet Pearlman, who will be taking her willingness to learn, her desire to question, and her love of talking with Torah to Minnesota to be closer to her family. As she’s mentioned to me numerous times, the most important part of the service is to ask a question related to the Torah portion and discuss it. And she’s lived that principle, always willing to dig deeper into an issue or a question related to Torah as if to show that dialoguing with Torah is the most important thing we could do as Jews. Harriet, I couldn’t agree more.

So as we say goodbye to Harriet this Shabbat, let us send her off knowing that she’s helped inspire us to dialogue more deeply, more profoundly, and more enthusiastically with our dear and precious Torah.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Ari Saks

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