Photo Credit: Jewish Press

When we wake in the morning, we make a bracha before studying Torah out loud or writing divrei Torah but we don’t make a bracha before we mediate upon Torah mentally or answer halachic questions without offering explanations (S”A O”C 47). What’s the difference?

Of course, it’s a mitzvah to answer halachic questions and to silently learn. Yet, halachot can be memorized and parroted and books may be silently scanned without comprehension. This is not true of writing or conversing. When we write, we must consider and clarify exactly what we want to say. Likewise, a true dialogue in Torah takes place only when we consider exactly what we are trying to get across and when we pay attention to our interlocutors.


This is not only true of Torah study. A good shmooze reveals ourselves to others and reveals others to us; it is a learning experience. The deepest conversations do much more than merely provide a format for two parties to spout words at one another. In a good shmooze, two people learn – and sometimes even create – something new.


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Yitzchak Sprung is the Rabbi of United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston (UOSH). Visit our facebook page or to learn about our amazing community. Find Rabbi Sprung’s podcast, the Parsha Pick-Me-Up, wherever podcasts are found.