Jews seldom study Torah alone; the study of Torah is, more often than not, a social and even communal activity. Most commonly, Jews study Jewish texts in pairs, a method known as havruta (“fellowship”).
In havruta, a pair struggles to understand the meaning of each passage and discusses how to apply it to the larger issues addressed and even to their own lives. Sometimes they study to prepare for attending a lecture, and sometimes they meet to delve into a text independently of any organized class. Some pairs meet together for years. Why do they do this? Because they believe that two heads are better than one. And two people that have a commitment to pushing themselves and each other will get more out of their study than studying with a rotating group.
Why do I cite this Jewish tradition? Because they are onto something. We do better when we can bounce ideas off someone we trust and respect. A study pair that meets together over the years will certainly not agree on everything and that is actually better. They can hold each other accountable to really think through their beliefs and not make assumptions about the ideas they hold. Two people studying together can, through discussion and debate, help to sharpen each other’s insight into the text or topic. The 12 Step movement has figured this out as well, pairing newcomers with more experienced practitioners, calling them sponsors. In my experience, even newcomers have something to share, and none of us are ever ‘finished’ learning how to live well. Sponsor and newcomer end up helping each other. Besides, human beings are social animals and need the companionship and respect of others. Without that, life is less satisfying.
Our Monday Text Study is built on this idea, though there are more than two who participate. We take a close look at the scripture texts and talk over how we understand them, admitting when there are ideas or concepts in it that confounds us. We share our lives and our perspectives, and respect where the others are in their understanding, even when we don’t see it quite the same. Those of us that have been participating awhile have gotten to know each other and built up trust that we are willing to extend to others. (Monday Text Study, 10:30-11:30 on Zoom and in person.
Meeting ID: 825 2261 3866
Blessings and peace,