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Thursday, 6 August 2015

Rockstar Rabbis

Daf Yomi Nedarim 74

A couple of years back, we took a shul mission to Israel.  Ten days is not a long time and so we did our best to jam as much as possible into the short period we had there.   It’s not often one gets to hear from world renowned author-speakers and I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity of finding a great Shabbos eve scholar for the group.  We chose Gerald Schroeder, the MIT physicist from Aish Hatorah to address us after dinner on Friday night.

Of course, he did not disappoint.  His presentation was riveting and inspirational.  But as I looked around the room, I realized that perhaps I had packed the program just a little too much.  Most of the room was nodding off, including the couple that had sponsored the presentation.  I didn’t know where to put myself, both in front of the speaker and the sponsors.  Fortunately, Schroeder himself sensed full well what had happened and very generously offered to return on Tuesday to address us once again – this time, over morning breakfast! 

Ben Azai sighed to himself with the following declaration, “What a shame that you, son of Azai, did not attend Rabbi Akiva!”
The Rosh explains: It’s a real shame and loss that an erudite student like Ben Azai did not study under the great Rabbi Akiva.

Baruch Hashem, we get some fine Torah lecturers here in Edmonton.  We’ve heard from some of the greats in the Torah world today.  But that only happens a couple of times a year, when we have a Shabbaton or some other special occasion.

Whenever Rabbanit and I are visiting a bigger Jewish community, we try to find out which shiurim are taking place that we can capitalize on.   I love hearing from people when they return from their travels; most of the people I talk to can tell me about the shuls and Jewish quarters they visited.  But how many of us take time to learn some Torah while we are away?

A lot of people can tell you which rock bands they’ve heard and where they heard them play.  But listen to the way Ben Azai laments over never having attended Rabbi Akiva’s lectures!  Do we get as excited about hearing a good Torah class from a gadol (spiritual giant) or an awesome darshan (preacher) as we do about hearing famous musicians?

Who are your all-time favourite Torah teachers?  Who has inspired you?  Next time you go on vacation, who’s on your itinerary to learn from?  How does your Torah greats list match up to your great rock concerts list?  Which Torah gigs have you been to?  Which Torah giants are you a groupie of?

Which Torah teacher moves you?  Who inspires you?  Who have you yet to hear live?  When do you plan to hear them?  May you place your Torah greats at the very least on the same pedestal that you place your music greats and with time may you come to truly cherish the spiritual rockstars in your life and the world at large!

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