On Teaching Reply

Joel Lurie Grishav

Teaching as Intrepretation

By Joel Lurie Grishaver

One of my favorite texts of all times is Rashi’s comments on the first verse of the Torah.

Rashi’s first comment begins “Rabbi Yitzhak said…” If you know a little bit about Rashi, you will know that Rabbi Yitzhak was Rashi’s father. The idea our teaching begins out of our own family experience is a wonderful notion.

Rashi then begins his second comment by saying, “The Torah only says one thing, “explain me.” Or perhaps, “make a midrash out of me.” The idea that it takes our struggling and interpreting to have the Torah make sense. Just as Rashi begins his teaching with the invitation to join in a struggle to make meaning, our role as Jewish teachers is to do the same. The living Torah character that serves as the Torah Aura logo began his existence as an illustration of this Rashi. Likewise, both Torah-Toons and Being Torah, our definitional work, started out as our expression of Rashi’s interpretation.

We live in a world of too little time for Jewish life. We regularly have no where near enough hours to teach the things we want to teach. We spend our professional efforts in triage, deciding which things will fit into the slots we have. The next time you have to make such a choice, remember how Rashi did it, “Rabbi Yitzhak” and “explain me.”

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