June 25, 2014

60 Days of Growth – Find a Study Partner (Day 57)

shutterstock_87429140Wow, I can’t believe it’s almost over…as we mentioned yesterday, as we get closer to the end of our summer together we have to start getting ready for life outside of this blog. So today we are going to talk about one of the most important secrets to keeping the inspiration and growth going.

(There are a lot of Hebrew textual sources in today’s post, so bear with me…or better yet, get a study partner and learn the sources for yourself!)

King Solomon tells us in Mishlei (4:9) ” טוֹבִים הַשְּׁנַיִם, מִן-הָאֶחָד:  אֲשֶׁר יֵשׁ-לָהֶם שָׂכָר טוֹב, בַּעֲמָלָם – Two are better than one because together they get a good reward for their toil.” This is a deep lesson for the ages and so he continues, “ כִּי אִם-יִפֹּלוּ, הָאֶחָד יָקִים אֶת-חֲבֵרוֹ – because if one falls the other one will lift up his friend” Life can be tough, we can’t always live up to the person we want to be, but if we have a good friend, a partner along the path of life, he or she will lift us up when we fall and we can do the same for them.

But, even more than being a support system, having a like-minded friend to help us out on our journey adds more, as King Solomon tells us again in Proverbs (27:17) “ בַּרְזֶל בְּבַרְזֶל יָחַד;    וְאִישׁ, יַחַד פְּנֵי-רֵעֵהוּ – Just like iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens his friend.” When we learn something with someone else, or discuss important issues with them, they can offer an outside perspective and sharpen our viewpoint on things – even help us learn things we never would have figured out alone.

Finally, there is an almost mystical component to having a close friend and study partner, God loves when Jewish brothers and sisters are unified and help each other, King David sings about this in Tehillim 133, “הִנֵּה מַה-טּוֹב, וּמַה-נָּעִים–    שֶׁבֶת אַחִים גַּם-יָחַד – How great and enjoyable is it for brothers to sit together.” God loves this unity so much, that when we focus it on learning Torah and growing God gives us an extra special boost, the Talmud tells us (Shabbat 63a)”א”ר ירמיה א”ר אלעזר שני תלמידי חכמים המחדדין זה לזה בהלכה הקב”ה מצליח להם – Rabbi Yirmiyah says in the name of Rabbi Eliezer, ‘If there are two scholars who  sharpen one another regarding the proper way to behave, God will make them successful’”

Learning together is such a powerful thing, it has been the way that Jews improve themselves and learn Torah for thousands of years, so much so that we are told (Brachot 63b), “שאין התורה נקנית אלא בחבורה – Torah is not received except in a group” and (Taanit 23a) “או חברותא או מיתותא – either you have a study partner (literally company) or you have death” so today’s Jewish mission is to find a study partner. This should be someone who you can trust, someone who has your best interests in min and preferably someone who knows about Judaism, life and Torah and who can help you continue to grow.

If you need help finding a study partner you can comment below or you can contact an amazing organization called Partners in Torah they help people find study partners to learn via skype or on the phone.