Saturday, May 10, 2014

Kvelling. . .

היום חמשה ועשרים יום שהם שלשה שבועות וארבעה ימים בעמר
Today is twenty-five days, which is three weeks and four days of the omer
נצח שבנצח
A day of perseverance in a week of perseverance

Today is one of those days that makes a teacher proud. One of my students had his bar mitzvah today. After nine months of learning and studying and practicing (another three :) he shared so much Torah with translation, commentary, and chanting (three again :).

His Torah portion was Lev 25:1 - 28 of Parashat B'har--not the hardest section of Torah for a 13-year-old, but not the easiest either. In a nutshell, it has instructions for having the land lie fallow every seven years, and about the Jubilee year, every 50 years, when all possessions revert back to their original owners. All of this is a reminder that the earth does not belong to people, but to God.

While working on the translation, in verse 17 we came across the phrase, "fear your God." When I see this phrase, which comes up often in Torah and liturgy, I process it as awe rather than fear. When I asked Josh how he would translate it, he came up with "respect the power of God." It was a moment for this tutor to kvell.

His drash, his teaching, centered around how we need to appreciate that the land needs to rest as much as we do. He referenced someone he knows who is a farmer, who reinforced the practice of rotating crops and planting specific crops to bring back nutrients to the land, as well as letting the land rest. I have a feeling these teachings will stay with him--which is, ultimately, what this study is all about.

And then there was his chanting--which was spot on. In fact, there was a point where I thought he needed a correction, but he, very lightly, corrected me---which is the best a teacher can hope for.

Just a wonderful that will stay with me for many years to come.

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