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236 Kane Street / Brooklyn, NY 11231 / 718 875-1550

Keeping the Big Picture in Mind

L’Fi Dati: As I See It

A message from Rabbi Weintraub

I don’t know anyone who is not busy. From the time that we rise to whenever we are lucky enough to go to bed, our days are filled with deadlines, appointments, purchases, meetings, budgets, planning, reviews, and more.
We all need time to step out, to reflect, to transcend our quotidian pressures and see a bigger picture.

Judaism helps here by giving us the opportunity, indeed the obligation to study Torah. Torah study is often misunderstood as a vocation available to trained Rabbis, Yeshiva students or those “religious” or “serious” Jews over there. In fact, the study of Torah occurs whenever any of us, at whatever level, uses the textual and other wisdom resources of our tradition to grapple with issues of larger purpose:

  • To what causes should I devote my resources?
  • What compromises are permitted in the world of work and what is unacceptable?
  • How should I offer criticism when a friend seriously errs?
  • How can I stop my baser instincts from sabotaging my relationships?

We reflect on these questions through study of our sacred texts. In that Limud, that study, we engage the mind and heart with a special kavanna, intentionality. Our goal is not to pile on knowledge but to refine our character. In the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, “the unique attitude of the Jew is not the love of knowledge but the love of studying… It is not the book; it is the dedication that counts.”

In Torah study, insights are gained especially by developing open, loving, and fearless relationships with fellow students. So, students were called chaveirim, friends in the traditional Yeshiva, where study was carried on not in flat recitation, but in chant. Because of this intimate quality, students after study report a deepened sense of physical well being, and a greater inclination to judge others fairly and engage in altruistic acts.
To be most effective, the Rabbis instructed “A’sei Torat’cha Keva”, “make your Torah fixed,” a habit as regular and embedded in your schedule as taking a lunch break or bathing.

At Kane Street, we study, elevate our personalities and build our community through Open Beit Midrash, an informal community of learning which will meet this year every Tuesday evening from October 20, 2015 to April 12, 2016. We begin with a catered dinner from 6:45-7:30 P.M. and continue with study from 7:30-9:00 P.M. Our program this year features eight teachers, each leading one three week mini-course over the 24 week period. The overall theme is “Torah and the personal life.” Courses will focus on such issues as the elements of a “good life,” responding to suffering, sibling relationships, aging, and the healing power of music. The faculty includes several of the most popular and creative Jewish adult educators working in North America today.

Please read our brochure, here. Note that we offer a very inexpensive annual subscription for $180, which covers all 24 dinners and course sessions. Or you may enroll for individual courses. You do not need any background in Hebrew or Jewish studies to participate. We welcome students of all levels, and texts are taught in English translation.

So take a break from your harried life and join us in fellowship, intellectual exploration and moral search. I welcome your comments or questions about the Open Beit Midrash at [email protected] and look forward to a year of impassioned, enlightening study together.

Rabbi Weintraub

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