These and Those

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

The Best of David Levin-Kruss

Posted on November 15, 2010 by Jean

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The beginning Mishna class at Pardes is called Foundations of Judaism, which sounded, to me, suspiciously like Judaism for Dummies. However, not once has the instructor patronized us with statements such as “Pesach is when we eat matzah” or “Chanukah commemorates the miracle of the oil.”

The instructor has asked us more interesting questions: If you were forced to choose only one mitzvah to perform, what should it be? If we celebrated the first of Nisan as the New Year rather than the first of Tishrei, how would things be different? Are we really supposed to fast on Yom Kippur? To what extent does spirituality define, refine, or confine us?

I won’t spoil those questions for you, but I will share just a few of the pearls of wisdom that have fallen from our instructor’s lips.

— The mishkan resembled a package from Ikea.
— The Talmud is a shopping mall.
— The Talmud should be published with racy pictures– as it is a dangerous work that changes lives.

David once advised me to “play” with Judaism, so I’m inspired to keep my reverence balanced with irreverence. Because if we can’t laugh at ourselves occasionally, we’re just not doing it right.