5 Game-Changing Ways Judaism Can Enhance Your Approach to Life
"Judaism recognizes that futurity is guaranteed in the classroom, that survival is predicated on education."
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The French Jewish intellectual, Bernard Henri Lévy, describes Jews as a nation that can be summed up “by their resemblance to a body of sand.”1
Sand, he wrote, stands for “light and tacit mobility, flexibility and the capacity to change shape and form.”2 Throughout history, Jews have migrated their way through the Diaspora in a remarkably pliant manner. Facing an unpredictable path characterized by periods of calm followed by lashes of hatred, Jews uniquely managed to both preserve their own ancient wisdom and absorb the learnings of their host nations.
In doing so, they managed to transport a renewed religion along with them each time they were forced to leave a hostile host country. And if Jews have benefited from this dialogue with other nations, those nations have benefited from the addition of — to paraphrase Lévy — a little sand with their soil. Jewish religious teachings and the secular teachings of countries all around the world have continuously shaped and complemented each other.
What if more Jews started noticing this give-and-take relationship which has characterized a large portion of their history? And what if we were to start seeing Judaism as a unique, positive gift, something that intrinsically shapes their Jewish identity?
Introduction to Jewish Education
Maimonides wrote in his compendium of Jewish law, the Mishneh Torah:
“Teachers of young children are to be appointed in each province, district and town.” If cities persistently neglect this duty, “the city is excommunicated, for the world is only maintained by the breath of school children.”3
Judaism recognizes that futurity is guaranteed in the classroom, that survival is predicated on education. And crucially, education is to be provided for all. The sages warn to “be careful with regard to the education of the sons of paupers, as it is from them that the Torah will issue forth.”4 All children, regardless of their socioeconomic background, are to be afforded a Jewish education.
Not only is providing a Jewish education of paramount importance, but the nature of such education is unique. As the late, great Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks wrote, “the word ‘education’ is altogether inadequate to describe Judaism’s culture of study and debate, its absorption in texts, commentaries and counter-commentaries, its devotion to literacy and life-long learning.”5
So, how can this important and unique Jewish education enhance your general skillset and approach to other subjects and, really, to life? Here are five game-changing ways to get started: