Photo Credit: Wikimedia
Isidor Kaufmann - Rabbi with Young Student

{Originally posted to Rabbi Weinberg’s website, The Foundation Stone}

Just a little boy studying Talmud with my father zt”l, I was excited when we learned, “Rabbi Chaninah said, ‘I learned a great deal from my teachers, more from my colleagues, and yet more from my students’ (Ta’anit 7a).” I asked my father and teacher whether he had learned anything from me. “Not yet,” he said, “but I’m sure that one day I’ll be able to say the same thing about you.” I dreamed of the day my father would be able to say that he learned something from me.

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The following morning, as I was reciting the Blessings of the Torah that speak of God as, “Who teaches Torah to His people Israel,” I wondered whether God, the Teacher, experienced Rabbi Chanina’s declaration, so, I ran to the Source of All Knowledge, tugged at my father’s Tallit while he was praying, pointed to the blessing, and desperately asked, “Well?”

 

His answer, with a face shining with joyous pride, still makes me shiver. “I told you that one day I would learn something from you!” As happy as I was, I still didn’t have an answer to my question, “Does God say, ‘yet more from My students’?”

 

My father responded, “Did God benefit from you teaching an idea to me?”

 

No wonder God began Revelation with, “God descended upon Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:20).” The same Teacher who regularly instructs Moses to, “Elevate the people (30:11),” and, again in this week’s portion, “When you raise the minds of the sons of Gershon (Numbers 4:21),” consistently guiding Moses Our Teacher to elevate us, comes down to us at Sinai.

 

God was informing us of the essence of the Covenant of Torah, “and yet more from My students!” It was not to be instruction, but a relationship of Rebbi and Talmid, Teacher and student, in which the Teacher openly proclaims, “I have gained from My students!”

 

I had the privilege this past Shabbat of living that moment at Sinai; the moment in which the teacher’s world is expanded and reshaped by students. We had a Shabbaton focusing on relationship skills, and as we were discussing ideas over the Shabbat meal, my students had so much to offer, so many insights to share, cutting me off to present their thoughts, that I lived, “and yet more from my students,” and understood exactly what God desires when teaching Torah to us. There is no word better to describe the experience than, “Revelation.” God was not only interested in teaching. God the Teacher desired to experience what we would do with His Torah.

I look toward Shavuot, the festival celebrating Revelation, as an opportunity to not only absorb the Torah’s wisdom, but as a chance to apply its wisdom so well that God the Teacher will look at us as my father did in response to my question, and say, “Yet more have I received from My students.”

Chodesh Tov, Shabbat Shalom, and a Shavuot on which you will experience giving nachas to God the Teacher.

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