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Sunday, 21 September 2014

Stop boring your kids with Judaism!

Daf Yomi Chagigah 13

Imagine you’ve grown up deep in the heart of the Amazon jungle.  One day, you find yourself transported to Canada.  Everything is simply amazing.  You stare at the way people are dressed.  You watch as the cars zip down the street.  You sit at the laundromat watching the clothes go round and round in the machine.  You marvel at the skyscrapers, the aeroplanes, the traffic lights and the smartphones.

You’ve got to tell somebody about these wonders.  You stop someone in the street and start talking about everything you’ve seen. 
“Big whoop,” he responds and hurries off down the street.

The prophet Ezekiel expends much detail in his description of the revelation he received of the Divine Chariot.  Isaiah had a similar experience but his description is far more succinct.  Did he receive a lesser revelation?

Isaiah declared, “I saw Hashem sitting upon a high and lofty throne and its legs filled the Temple.  Seraphim were standing above at His service.   Each had six wings: with two it would cover its face, with two it would cover its legs and with two it would fly…”

Rava taught: Everything that Ezekiel saw in his vision, Isaiah likewise saw.  But to what may Ezekiel be compared?  To a villager who sees the king.  And to what may Isaiah be compared?  To an urbanite who sees the king.

Rashi explains: When Isaiah received his Divine inspiration, he did not detail his experience, because he was a member of the royal family who grew up in the palace.  An urbanite that sees the king is not as impressed and surprised and thus he did not feel compelled to elaborate.

Nowadays, our kids have seen it all.  If we think we can still impress them with the same old teaching methods we’ve always used, we’re living in la-la land.   We have to beat them at their own game, using the latest technology, our wildest imaginations and the most awesome entertainment!

They live in the proverbial city!  They are exposed to so much that we were never exposed to growing up.  And Torah is just one option amongst infinite choices that they can make. 

But Torah is eternal and our job is to figure out how to keep it fresh, how to keep it relevant and how to show people, young and old, why Torah is the guidebook for eternity!  That’s a real challenge.  Don’t expect to come to the Shabbos table or to the Pesach seder with the same old nothing-changed rigmarole.   The message each week and each year needs to be inspiring, different and motivating.

The good news is that Torah is from the Infinite realm and there is no shortage of creative and innovative ways to teach Torah.  No urbanite, no matter how cosmopolitan he may think he is, will ever find Torah boring.  Your holy task, however, is to figure out how to impart the message in a way that is exciting, fresh and inspirational!

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