These and Those

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

The Rules of the Game

Posted on July 31, 2012 by Ross Meltzer

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I am not sure when the last time was I actually did something for the first time. So when I was approached a few days ago to write a blog, I knew instinctively from childhood that I have to try everything once. I wasn’t sure how to approach this, or if anyone would even read it.  Once I gave it some thought, I realized people probably just blog to get their thoughts to paper (ooops old school), and I have certainly done that before. Besides, I never do anything half way.  Like the natural spring mikvot I sometimes go to after classes, it doesn’t help to go in half way, you immerse yourself fully in a task and you feel refreshed and invigorated. Here we go!

What do I mean by “Rules of the Game”?

I recently had the chance to study and write exams for my Hockey Referee Level Four Theory (Level Five for the semi-pro and pro Leagues and 6 for International Hockey). It is not that I am bragging, I was quite humbled by the experience. If you know anything about ice hockey, you know there are a lot of rules and this seemed like an onerous task.

Of course, I brought forth my vast knowledge from the first three levels of refereeing, but I was unprepared for the volume of new rules. I started my study routines, got myself a study partner, wrote to rules experts looking for patterns and spent countless hours with the text. I realized at some point in my studies that I might be over my head and was ready to submit. Really not do the Referee courses and not interact with the 100 other referees from North America and Europe.

Over the course of the preparation, I had an epiphany. I had been in many of these situations before, previous practical experiences applying the hockey rules. I hadn’t spent enough time in my studies, looking at the interpretations booklet they provided me, only the text itself. I started pouring over the practical applications of the rules and drawing on all my previous experiences. Once I got to the courses, I was in the top third of all categories of rules and contributed a vast amount to the learning experience.

Now you must know the journey is not over, only the courses and examination. As the new season approaches in September, they will begin sending supervisors to watch me in action and evaluate me over time to see how I apply the rules and how I handle difficult situations during challenging games.

So why write about the “Rules of the Game” in this context? Our time at Pardes is very similar to this experience. We pour over text for hours and hours, and then we analyze more text on what the great rabbis and scholars understood from the text. I don’t have to tell anyone about how exciting it is to study Tanach, Talmud and tefillah, in Jerusalem at Pardes, with incredible morim (teachers).

What I really think is important is what I do after Pardes.  How I apply these teachings and lessons in the practical day to day Jewish and secular parts of my life, in Toronto. Too bad there won’t be anyone watching me and evaluating me after Pardes, or will there be?


My Pardes experience has been a tribute to my ima, Rivka bat Sarah, of  blessed memory,  09/01/94. My soul is bound up with yours until eternity.