May 28, 2014

60 Days of Growth – Teach and Learn (Day 30)

Today is Day 30! Let’s take some time to analyze the number 30 and what it can signify for our lives from a Jewish perspective…

First of all, we need to look at numbers from the Jewish perspective. In Judaism, numbers do not exist on their own, they are all connected to and expressed by their Hebrew letter counterpart. Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches us that the essence of the numbers can be understood through these letters and their deeper meaning. The number 30 corresponds to the Hebrew letter “ל – Lamed” and I think the depth of this letter speaks volumes to where we currently are with this blog.

shutterstock_120981982We are currently on a path, the end of that path (and beginning of the next path) is at 60, which means that 30 is the center or middle of that path. Let’s take a moment to take stock of where we are where we are going and how that connects to 30. Like I said before, 30 corresponds to Lamed, and the word Lamed shares a Hebrew root with the word connected to teaching or learning. In fact, the number 3 has a strong connection to learning, like Solomon tells us (Ecclesiastes 4:12), “וְהַחוּט, הַמְשֻׁלָּשׁ, לֹא בִמְהֵרָה, יִנָּתֵק – The tripled rope is not easily broken” and our mystical tradition teaches us that is in reference to learning. So we see that 30 and 3 are deeply connected to learning and teaching. Let’s try to learn a little more from the numbers about this concept of learning and teaching, first of all the Hebrew number for 3 is express as “שלש – shalosh” (all of whose letters are multiples of 3, ש which is 300 and ל which is 30) which when  broken down can mean “shel shin – of the teeth” this teaches us a deep lesson about learning, everything must be chewed and processed before it is swallowed and internalized otherwise it won’t be properly integrated into our being. As well, the Hebrew letter which corresponds with 3 is “ג – gimmel” which shares its root with the Hebrew word for camel, which carries travelers through the vast desert and holds water for the long journey inside of it. It does not go without water, as many people think, but rather it stores the water and uses it throughout its journey. This is a metaphor for our own learning, our knowledge will carry us through the vast desert of life, and we should never think that we can go without water (Torah or learning), rather we need to store up enough so that we can sustain ourselves on our long journey.

To take this level even deeper and relate it to current events, today is Yom Yerushalayim, the day which marks the reunification of Jerusalem and a return of our holy city to our people. In Hebrew, the word for Jerusalem, ירושלים‎, can be broken down many ways to reveal deeper meaning and significance. One of these break downs is “yerush lamed-im” “to inherit the lameds” or “inheriting the learning”. The Torah tells us ‎”כִּי מִצִּיּוֹן תֵּצֵא תוֹרָה, וּדְבַר יְיָ מִירוּשָׁלָֽיִם – from Zion comes the Torah and the word of God from Jerusalem” and Jerusalem is the center of the Jewish people, what we learn from this is that the true significance of Jerusalem is the inheritance that it gives us…the Torah and word of God. At the very center of everything is the “limmud” of the learning of Torah.

So, how does this all relate to where we stand today, as the half-way point in the journey of this blog? As our sages teach us (Pirkei Avot 1:17), “ולא המדרש הוא העיקר, אלא המעשה – Learning is not the end result, rather, action is” Learning is crucial to our understanding of the world around us, and it is important to make sure that we are constantly striving to learn more and expand our knowledge, but learning without  action is meaningless. Although learning is a necessary component of action, without action, learning is incomplete. That is why it is so fitting that 30 be our mid-point, right now we are learning, but we are only halfway there…

Today’s Jewish mission is to learn and teach, utilizing some of the Jewish lessons above and realize the importance of learning in its own right as well as its necessity toward meaningful and proper action, also realize that we are only halfway there, with much still to learn and do.