June 17, 2024
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June 17, 2024
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As the calendar turned from October to November, that meant one thing for the School for Torah Understanding and Middot, of Philadelphia, shabbaton season had begun! For STUMP students, the shabbaton was the highlight of the year. The STUMP shabbaton was unique, beginning on a Wednesday night and involving a number of fun and meaningful traditions. Every year, Judaism played a central role, with significant time spent on learning Torah and discussing what it means to live as a Jew.

This year’s shabbaton committee involved a number of veteran faculty members, and one new teacher. Morah Danit Wallin, a popular teacher in her first year teaching, took on the task of creating the Torah-learning component. With the first official shabbaton meeting three days away, Danit sat down to brainstorm ideas. “What would I want my children to get out of a shabbaton?” Danit asked herself. After a few minutes of pondering, she decided. Danit picked up her pen and wrote “The Most Important Part of Being Jewish.” She then underlined the title phrase, and paused. After a few minutes of humming and tapping her pen, Danit wrote “Relationship With Hashem” in big, bold letters. This led to a few more minutes of humming and tapping, followed by Danit writing the words “Part One.” Danit then continued to write a few more topics: “Relationship With Hashem Part Two,” “Relationship With Hashem Part Three,” and “Relationship With Hashem Part Four.” She then wrote and underlined a new title: “Discussion Topics,” underneath which she wrote “What Does Having a Relationship With Hashem Mean to Me?” and “What Should a Relationship With Hashem Mean to You?” Satisfied, Danit smiled, put the pen down, and headed out for a walk.

Three days later, Morah Wallin presented her ideas to the shabbaton committee. Although the committee members tried to react positively, Danit could tell they weren’t enthusiastic about her choices. “I know, I know, I could spice up the titles a little better,” Danit offered. “But what about the topic? Does it work?” Rabbi Hoffman spoke up first, “The original idea is nice, but maybe it’s a bit too much emphasis on the same topic. Relationship with Hashem is important, but not that important.” Danit smiled appreciatively. “Got it. Will rethink and get back to you guys.”

A few days later, Danit sent an email to the committee to introduce her new idea. “Hi everyone. Thanks for your feedback. Upon researching, I have found an even more important topic, Limmud Torah. So, I am revising my original titles to “Learning Torah Part One,” “Learning Torah Part Two,” “Learning Torah Part Three,” “What Learning Torah Means to Me” and “What Learning Torah Should Mean to You.” Within fifteen minutes of hitting send, Danit received three separate emails, each one encouraging Danit to use more variety in her topics. Now Danit was confused. She thought the original problem was that she didn’t choose the right topic. Now she was being advised to choose a few different topics. What was the right thing to do?

Danit decided to go for a walk to think. It had just finished pouring outside, and the air had cooled off. Danit loved this type of weather, and this time she got an extra treat—a big beautiful rainbow! While Danit strolled beneath the colorful sky, she realized that the rainbow was the answer! A rainbow is created when light reflects through a clear surface like water. The water breaks the light into a variety of colors, each an important part of the original light. Danit went straight back to work on her new topic, “Judaism: One Goal, Many Paths.” It turned out to be a hit.

Finding the space between two sefarim of the Torah is not difficult. The space in between each pair takes up four lines. Nowhere else does the Torah skip any lines, let alone four. What is the purpose of these spaces? Why even have separate books? Just make the Torah one unit, as it is all one long story. One possibility is that even though all of Chumash is one “story,” each sefer has its own theme. For example, Bereishit is about the relationship between individuals and Hashem, while Shemot is about the relationship between Bnei Yisrael and Hashem. It is important for us to realize that the Torah contains a number of different themes, each one a pathway to connect to Hashem. As we start sefer Bamidbar, pay close attention to the stories. What themes can you identify?


Yair Daar is the director of Student Life at Bicultural Hebrew Academy High School. He can be reached at [email protected].

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