#BlogElul – Learn
What lessons did I learn this year? I learned a bit of language and a bit of math. I learned a bit about Hamilton and a bit about Canada. On the spiritual level, the interesting one in Elul, however, I guess I learned things I already knew. I learned that I am a perfectionist who takes too long to do the simplest things. I learned that whatever sense I was using, my ability to perceive the outside world was not just somewhat limited, but more limited than that of others, that I am clumsy and compulsive, and that I am a bit needy and into complaining. These traits, which I’ve been working on since I was a kid are still there.
I learned that I can be a good teacher – it’s tricky, but I can be if I try. I am also beautiful, funny, and smart. I’m a good mom – I build decent family relationships. I learned that I’m into writing and that my writing is occasionally decent and that I’m into chatting with others so long as they do most of the chatting and that I enjoy board games and prayer services, singing and fancy meals. More or less, I knew all of that.
How can I learn something new? How can I understand myself on a deeper level? Maybe this is it – maybe learning that I am – I can be and I am – a good teacher, for instance, takes me a lifetime. Maybe I need to learn these lessons from a whole lot of different angles, in a ton of different circumstances to gauge the depth of my knowledge and to increase it. I can think of each aspect of myself and my learning as a polished gem. Yes, the learning is there no matter what, but as I go through the years, I polish it so that it shines more brightly.
I am starting to study Torah, a bit, again. It’s not easy and I don’t know enough of it. It says “veTalmud Torah keneged kulam” when listing the good traits (like honouring parents and visiting ill people) that we should have.
Ve – and the study. Have you noticed how the bible always starts everything with an “and” – every verse connected to every other, every saying/action of God connected to every other, every aspect of the universe intertwined into one gigantic web of being and Being.
Talmud – study; learning; commenting; asking why “lamah”; investigating; the compendium of people who did that for a living was at one point collected into books called the Talmud. Schools are sometimes called Talmud Torah – the Learning of Torah place. Learning is big.
Torah – the knowledge God gave Moses, and through Moses, us; the writings of inspired people; the beginning and end of information; the way things work; Torah that’s by hand and Torah that’s in the mouth – learning is physical; visceral. Some people translate Torah as Jewish Bible/old testament, and some as knowledge/wisdom and the fact that both are true is why we study it.
KeNeged – is against; is compared to; is equivalent to. Kulam – them all. How can study be equivalent to all those other things – prayer, comfort, service, respect, commitment? What does it mean to say it’s against/compared to them all? Surely, doing is more important than learning? Heck, coming to a house of learning early is in the list! If I devote myself to study to the exclusion of all other things then study really is against them all! So what makes it such a big deal? Is it the inspiration to do more that Torah should bring? Is it that polishing of my learning, that deeper understanding of myself?
If it is, and if I can use that learning to unblock some stuck places in my life that I can do more service and so on, then it would make perfect sense for Torah to equivalent to them all because it leads to them all. This year, I will see learning as a polishing cloth that I use to shine up the gems in my personality and smooth away the imperfections – not so that I may sit there like a piece of jewelry, but that I may go out there and become more useful and more beautiful in the world.