Posted on April 4, 2014 by Aliza Geller
There is a good chance that I won’t be returning to Pardes after Passover. So, during community lunch yesterday, I said a few words, an option given to anyone who wants to reflect on their experience at Pardes. Here is what I said:
Roughly two hours ago I walked into the Beit Midrash to return a book I had borrowed on Jewish Meditation. When I first went to look for the book It was hidden in the farthest corner of the Beit Midrash and after about 15 minutes of looking I found it by chance. Today as I walked away from that shelf I saw this,
The Pardes Reader, a book of essays published in 1997, in celebration of 25 years of learning at Pardes. Clearly, it was left here for me to find it so I could be reminded of the legacy we are all perpetuating simply by dwelling in this place.
Rav Landes introduces the work with his essay, Entering Pardes, these are the timeless words that will Be’ezrat Hashem define Pardes forever. “We must confidently and openly engage those documents of division without reducing our reading of the text to the simple dichotomies of insiders and outsiders, believers and heretics”. I like to think we all have a little of each inside of us and that it is what makes us capable of being here.
Another quote from Rav Landes that speaks to me and reflects my experience here: “Entering Pardes always has its risks, but we well know the rewards. The fierce debate of our beit midrash leads to intellectual and spiritual enlightenment. In such learning, documents of division and Alienation become sources of life and the vision of the unity of Klal Yisrael is realized”.
My blessing for you, me too why not! Is that you keep this vision of Pardes alive whether you are continuing here as a Fellow, going out into the work force, or heading off to Grad school. Truly, I have already promised Levi that I will skype into Midrash for the rest of the year and that I will continue to havruta with one of my Tanach havrutot.
I wanted to thank everyone, students, teachers and staff for a great year! Also, I managed to fit that beautiful giant card into my suitcase! I cannot thank you enough for all of the kind messages that were included.