These and Those

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

Sacred Phrases

Posted on August 7, 2023 by Darielle Shandler

By Darielle Shandler
Pardes Summer Program 2023 Participant

“What did the rabbis have to say about this?”
“Well, according to the Gemara…”
“One could argue that…”
“But wait, wait, wait- in the Hebrew it says-”
“Okay, so there’s a mahloket- “

All these glorious phrases
Scattered, replicated,
Crunchy fallen leaves on the Beit Midrash floor

Sound to me like music
Just as sacred as
The inked letters passed to me through time

For these are the phrases of the living
In community, in conversation, in connection

“We don’t have time now for that-”
“That’s beyond the scope of this class.”
“Let’s get back on track.”
“I’d be happy to talk about it later.”

All these glorious phrases
Delivered through laughter and shaking heads
Dance along the desks
Of each classroom

How do you solve this problem –
That is no problem at all
How do you quell the tsunami of curiosity
Coursing through each of us?

These are also sacred phrases
Proof of the overflow
Of passion
Of love
That we have for each other and for our tradition – wide and varied as it may be

As you move forward into whatever comes next
May you never let go of these sacred phrases
and the teachers – faculty and fellow student alike – who utter them with reverence
And let them remind you of all you’ve learned and how far you’ve come


Join us next year for sacred phrases and warm community at the Pardes Summer Program!