These and Those

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

My Dvar Torah at PEP graduation

Posted on June 13, 2012 by Sam Blumberg

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By Sam Blumberg, PEP ’12

Over the last three years at Pardes, I have learned a ton. I’ve learned Torah, Talmud, Mishna, pedagogy, philosophy– all things that I knew little about before my time in the Pardes Educators Program.
But I didn’t come here to learn. I came here to teach.

In the thirteenth chapter of Yevamot, it is stated כל האומר אין לו אלא תורה‫,‬ אין לו אלא תורה — one who says that he will only learn Torah and not put it into action receives only the merit for learning it. This is quickly rejected.

אפילו תורה אין לו–– כל שישנו בעשיה‫,‬ ישנו בלמידה‫.‬ כל שאינו בעשיה‫,‬ אינו בלמידה.

In fact, one only receives the merit from learning Torah once it is put into action. Though tonight we graduate, we have not yet completed our task. We will not see the true reward for our learning until we begin to teach.

But as we go out to teach, we will not be alone. All of the perakim, dapim, studies and mishnayot that we have learned and pored over the last several years will follow us into the classroom. And we will teach them. The experiences that we’ve had here in Jerusalem, the discoveries we’ve made– we will teach them too.

Yes, I came to Pardes to teach. But If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my teachers here at Pardes, it is the value of learning the rich texts of our tradition. I have had the unique opportunity to spend three years, in this room, with these books– getting to know them and to understand them. Just because we are moving on to the next phase– teaching what we’ve learned– doesn’t mean that we have to stop learning. In order to continue teaching, we must continue learning. In the end, what I want to teach to my students is what I’ve learned here– the utmost importance of learning our sacred and vibrant texts, so that one day they might come to teach them as well.

I have been blessed to study with some of the most brilliant minds and genuine people I have ever met, and for that I am forever grateful. Thank you to the Avi Chai foundation for their commitment to this amazing program, to all my teachers, colleagues and friends who have supported me over the last three years, and to my wonderful and talented fiancee Amalia for being by my side and giving me strength.