Taking My Torah on the Road

temple emeth bulletinWhen I realized that I would be traveling or teaching locally for many weekends this fall, I thought it might be fun to share some stories of my travel with you.

I spent last weekend in New Jersey, teaching at Temple Emeth in Teaneck on Friday night. It was an honor to deliver the 2013 Rabbi Joshua Trachtenberg Memorial lecture, and I’m delighted that those in attendance were quick to ask questions and share their thoughts about the text; they transformed the lecture into a discussion.  Personally, I’m more comfortable with that format, which I find more conducive to studying (classical and modern) rabbinic interpretations of the Torah. This “torah she’b’al peh” is often translated as “Oral Torah.”

But my friend Jeff Spitzer coined the term “Conversational Torah,” which better captures the essence of the Torah that I strive to teach. Engaging a group of students—adults, teens or children—and eliciting their wisdom as it emerges from studying the Torah.  To me, that’s a taste of the world to come. It’s like spending an evening in heaven in Teaneck.


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