Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Never Too Late to Learn Bible, Tanach

I've been enjoying the past few years, since I've had my Wednesdays free to attend classes in Matan and study Bible, Tanach. Having come from a regular American public school education, I knew very little Bible, Tanach.  I did attend an after school Hebrew School in our local synagogue, Oakland Jewish Center, Bayside, NY,  for five years, but there wasn't much we could really learn six hours a week. And I don't remember all that much. We certainly didn't learn the Bible as a text the way I enjoy as an adult.

There was a period of time when here in Shiloh we had classes one morning a week in Bible, Tanach and other related subjects. I attended and enjoyed them greatly. It was my first serious taste of Bible, Tanach on an adult level. The studies were in Hebrew taught by a variety of local teachers, especially Rabbi Nissan Ben-Avraham, who ended up teaching most classes before the program closed.

During that time, for a number of years there were weekly classes, first in Eli and towards the end in Shiloh for women in English. The program had begun during some difficult period, maybe Oslo, when various Jewish communities throughout the world adopted communities in YESHA. Eli was adopted by Har Nof, and their rabbi, Rabbi Shalom Gold, his wife Baila and neighbor Rabbi David Stahl came to Eli weekly to teach men and women.

Here I am with Rabbanit Malke Bina, founder of Matan.
By the time I finished teaching EFL English in the yeshiva high school in Beit El, I needed to find something to stimulate my mind and soul. A number of people recommended Matan. The first course I took there was a Study-Tour program based on the Prophets. In some ways I enjoyed it greatly, but the truth is that it was very frustrating. That's because my basic Bible knowledge was horrendously poor. I knew absolutely nothing about the Biblical Prophets and Kings, so the lectures were beyond me.

One of the lecturers was Dr. Yael Ziegler, and two years later I returned to Matan to take her course, which had begun a few years before. We just finished all of the Book of Kings. The division into two books, isn't a Jewish tradition. And last week we had a celebratory Siyum for the final chapter in Kings.

I was one of the speakers, and this is what I said:
Yael, even after seven years of "every Wednesday" classes here in Matan, I'm definitely not the most veteran of the group, but I'm pretty sure that what I'm going to say is what all of us feel, whether more or less veteran than myself. 
Apologies to Ruth, Great-Grandmother of King David:
Where you teach, we will follow… 
What you teach we will study… 
Your Bible is Our Bible

Your choice of Book is ours, too.
Ad me'ah v'esrim, blessings and good health to you, your family and all of us in here Matan. Thank you

I am not the oldest of the class for sure, and this class fills the auditorium. We are of all ages and backgrounds. Some of us have a Jewish education even weaker than my own, while others had been teachers in Jewish Schools, even Tanach teachers. There are members of the class who have been studying with Yael ever since she began in Matan. And every year more women join us. 

We all value the opportunity to enrich our knowledge of the Bible and stimulate our minds. I wish to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in Matan, from its very beginnings to now and the future. For so many of us, Wednesday, or whatever days we have classes is the best and most important day/s of the week. 

Gd willing may we enjoy many more years learning together.

1 comment:

Mr. Cohen said...

There can be no doubt that Tanach study
is extremely important.

Since we are talking about Tanach study:

In the Biblical Book of Joshua, chapter 23,
verses 12 to 13, G_d reveals that:

If Jews intermarry with non-Jews, then He will
NOT help the Jews conquer the Land of Israel.

And even worse, the sin of intermarriage will
cause the Jews to be driven out from the Land of Israel.

The Biblical Book of Jeremiah, end of chapter 17,

If the Jewish people observe Shabbat
then Jerusalem will be ruled by Jews forever
(verses 24 to 25).

But if Jews DO NOT observe Shabbat,
then the Land of Israel [literally, Jerusalem]
will burn with fire (verse 27, last verse of chapter).