These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Torah After Hours

Posted on October 28, 2010 by Shibley

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Sunday, chazara. Monday, night seder with R. Levi Cooper. Tuesday, issur v’heter. Wednesday, Kiddushin chevruta. Thursday, Brachot chevruta.

If it hadn’t been for the title, you might have thought that the aforementioned days and subjects were merely highlights in a day packed with Torah learning. And if you had thought that, you would have been wrong. Instead, the aforementioned are my weekly schedule of learning following the conclusion of regular Pardes classes. To me, it is the fulfilling of the idea that just as a mother never forgets about her baby, neither does the Jew ever forget about Torah, whether day or night.

There is something special about learning in the Pardes beit midrash after hours, you might even call it a badge of honor. The jokes begin something like this: “It’s 9:30, you’re going home? What, don’t you care about Torah?”  or “Don’t you have any friends who you don’t learn with?” As the hour advances, the eyes are no longer as wide or bright as they were for morning seder, thinking gets murkier, and distractions more frequent. Even so, as the building quiets down once the majority of students have departed for the evening, the ongoing Torah learning fosters a sense of community. Students look up from their gemaraot, chumashim, mishnayot, or whatever text they’re pouring over, as they pause to consider what they have just read, in an effort to internalize, analyze, and extract.

I am very proud to learn in a beit midrash that is “never closed.” The doors of the beit midrash are always open just as the countless sforim which line the walls of that beit midrash are always waiting to be opened. I am very proud to learn in a beit midrash that encourages Torah after hours. Not only are the doors open, but the desire to learn day and night is respected and taken seriously. I am very proud to learn in a beit midrash that is accessible. No matter the level of the student, all are encouraged to critically discuss their ideas , and ask for help from more advanced students.

Although the ideals of Pardes are constantly in place, never are they more apparent to me than when I’m learning Torah after hours.

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