Over the last few months, I have had the privilege of teaching Chumash (Five Books of Moses) as part of Limudei Lottie, a wonderful learning program for women in Ramat Beit Shemesh. We meet once a week, spend about 45 minutes in chavrusa (partnered study preparation) and 45 minutes in class. Because the session was seven weeks long, I chose the Seven Days of Creation as our topic – fully aware of the difficulties connected with this subject. Even so, it was truly remarkable what we were able to accomplish. One challenge of the class was the students’ wide variety of levels of Hebrew skills. We have students for whom reading was difficult, up through graduates of advanced learning programs. This was actually pretty easily solved by simply giving more material to the more advanced students. We all read the verses of each day closely, asking both textual and philosophical questions, and then went on to the classical commentaries, primarily Rashi and Ramban, to see if they addressed them.
For a Chumash (Pentateuch) teacher, this is a dream class. The women are so motivated, so ready to work, so intellectually and spiritually curious, they dove right into the challenge of some difficult Hebrew without hesitation. The differences in skill experience turned out to matter very little – every student had her own insights, analysis, and life experiences to enrich the discussion. Everyone progressed and grew – in her appreciation of Torah, in her translation skills, in her understanding of the parshanut (exegesis) methodology, including, of course, yours truly.
“Finishing” the week of Creation called for a celebration, and I called Devorah at Kosher Cakery, who made this truly mind-blowing cake, a copy of a Mikraot Gedolot, the classic Jewish edition of the Pentateuch with commentaries. To create the effect of the open book, she carved the cake sides down, and sponge-painted using multiple colors to give it an antique look. The students were impressed and happy, and I was elated to have such a special cake to bring honor to such a significant event. Thank you Devorah, may H’ help you continue to bring honor to the Torah, and joy to the Jewish people and the world at large.
~Love From Our Kitchen to Yours
Rachel Hershberg Guest Blogger