Photo Credit: Jewish Press

I consider myself extraordinarily privileged to have spent a number of years learning in yeshiva. Those years afforded me, along with fellow students, time devoted exclusively to Torah study – an opportunity to amass knowledge and cement values that remain the bedrock of my life.

But maybe the most important lesson I learned during those years was from a rebbe who remarked that the most essential character trait developed in yeshiva by a ben Torah is curiosity. At the time, I found the remark odd; most would choose other characteristics – like devotion and perseverance. Over time, however, I’ve realized the importance of defining the yeshiva worldview in terms of curiosity. Doing so articulates our religious responsibilities in terms of discovery – finding G-d’s truth across the human condition. And maybe even more importantly, it reminds us that the extreme opposite of a Torah lifestyle isn’t quite secularity but materialism and apathy – traits that flatten the world’s value and ignore G-d’s ever-present wisdom.


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Michael A. Helfand is a Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Faculty and Research at Pepperdine University School of Law.