Aug 30, 2012

Even if it's not Relevant

What does this parsha, these pesukim, this sefer mean to me? What is its relevance to our lives nowadays? These are questions that teachers today need to focus on because otherwise, students will be turned off.  If it is not "meaningful" to them and their lives, why should they learn it?

Something is sorely lacking in this attitude and that something is an appreciation for the chashivus of Torah.  Of course there are lessons to be derived in every generation and every culture from our Torah, "hafoch ba v'hafoch ba, d'kula ba" - turn it and turn it, for the Torah contains everything, and we should seek them out.  However, this should not be at the expense of Torah for Torah's sake.

I've discussed this point many times over the past fifteen years or so as the importance of relevance in chinuch has gotten greater.  Today, I read a thought on this week's parsha from R' Yisrael Salanter that is ... relevant. 

The Gemara says that the ben sorer u'moreh case never happened and we have its laws in order to gain reward for studying it.  He says, the Torah is plenty big! Do we need these pesukim in Chumash and the discussion in the Gemara to gain reward?!

Rather, the lesson here is that there is value in learning something that has no practical application! It's the word of Hashem and that's enough.

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