Thoughts on Chol haMoed Sukkot: Finding Emotion and Beauty in Our Learning
Moshe asks to see God—God instructs Moshe to carve a second set of stone Tablets like the first, and ascend Mt. Sinai, where God comes to stand with Moshe revealing Thirteen Attributes of Mercy. More commandments are now given to seal a renewed covenant and for 40 days and nights Moshe remains with God, without food or drink.
What follows is learning from Rabbi Brad Artson, Dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University in Los Angeles:
In the Talmud, In Massachet B’rachot (6b) we are told, “The reward for a halachic discussion lies in the reasoning.” Reasoning. Ours in not a tradition that distrusts logic. To the contrary, we revel in a disciplined mind. But, I will hasten to insist that to be able to engage in logic well, to be able to utilize reason soundly, requires a great deal of prior learning. When I was a junior in high school, I enrolled in an Advanced Placement course in American History; the teacher, Saul Taischoff, a wonderful pedagogue, stood up and said the following: “The class is not a discussion; it is a lecture because at this point I know something about American History, and you don’t. You will spend a year listening to my lectures and reading assignments. At the end of the year you will then know something about American History, and at that point anyone who wants to come into my office and have a discussion about anything about American History, will be welcome to do so.” Turns out that Jewish tradition says more or less the same thing, “Learn first, and then reason (Shabbat 63a). “ Reason unaided by hard, factual knowledge, is fantasy. To be able to reason responsibly requires great learning first. (more…)