Friday, 1 July 2011

A Head of Straw, A Head of Torah

Boker Tov:
Yes, I know it has been a very long time. Over a month in fact.
The reason is simple: I was thinking of just letting the blog go. I began thinking, I really don't have anything to say, anything important. Mark is still home. In fact, this has been the longest he has been home.
But then I have spend the past week reading e-mail, letters from people who tell me how much they like reading the blog, are encouraged in their marriage, in learning Torah, in seeking out the roots of their faith and even rethinking a few things.
So, I decided to keep it going.
Besides, now that life is less crazy, I have time.

Two nights ago was a landmark moment for me. We even invited to a birthday party for my hebrew teacher Emily. Several of her students showed up to pay honour to her. There is a memory book being made for her, filled with our stories and pictures.
Mark shared how Emily was the teacher that was able to get through to me in teaching how to read hebrew, and the growth he saw not only in my learning  hebrew, but as a person, developing more self-esteem. After Mark shared, I read the very first verse of Gensis in hebrew.
Last night, I read the first two verses of Gensis in hebrew to my mother.
As the rabbi's wife (Emily, mum) said to me that night, a whole new world is now open to me as I now can begin to read G-d's Word in the Holy Tongue as it was indeed meant to be.
My jounry in hebrew has reminded of a story from the Talmud of a man who through his tears, learned Torah....


Eliezer was the son of Hurkanas, a leading rabbi of his generation and a very wealthy man.
Eliezer was plowing on the mountain, and he began to cry. His father said: "Why are you crying? If it's hot up on the mountain, I'll move you down to the plain." So Eliezer began to plow in the plain, and cried there too.
"Why are you crying?" Hurkanas asked.
"I want to learn Torah," said Eliezer. He cried until Elijah the Prophet came and told him to go to Jerusalem and seek out Rebbe Yochanan Ben Zakkai, the greatest sage of his generation.
Eliezer went to Jerusalem -- and you guessed it -- started crying: "I want to learn Torah."
Rebbe Yochanan Ben Zakkai asked: "Didn't they even teach you to say the Shema?"
And so the great sage, Rebbe Yochanan Ben Zakkai, taught Eliezer the ABCs of Judaism. Then he said, "Very good, Eliezer. We were successful. Now it's time for you to go."
Eliezer started crying: "I want to learn more Torah."
So Rebbe Yochanan Ben Zakkai taught Eliezer the Five Books of Moses and the Oral Law. After this, Rebbe Yochanan said, "Eliezer, it is time for you to go."
Eliezer cried: "I want to learn more Torah!"
And so it went. Then one day, Eliezer was sitting and learning Torah in the back of the study hall. Unexpectedly, his father Hurkanas walked in. At which point, Rebbe Yochanan Ben Zakkai told Eliezer to move to the front and recite his Torah aloud.
After Eliezer had finished, Hurkanas stood up, and beaming with pride, said: "Eliezer, at first I wanted to give my property to all of my sons but you. But now I am going to give everything I have to you and you alone!"
Eliezer replied, "My father, if I wanted gold and silver, I would have stayed working on the farm. All I want is Torah." And Rabbi Eliezer Ben Hurkanas went on to become the leader of his generation, and the teacher of the great Rebbe Akiva....."

It is said that Eliezer was a slow learner, one with a head filled with straw. That it would be a wasted efforted to even to try to teach him the Shema, let alone Torah. It took the great sage Rebbe Yochamam Ben Zakkai to be able to reach Eliezer. But the biggest breakthrough was Eliezer's tears. He wanted to learn so badly it drove him to tears until he recieved that which he sought. The Jewel known as Torah.
Like Eliezer, I cried many tears, begging to learn hebrew, for I wish to learn Torah in hebrew, the holy langugae. For six years, teacher after teacher tried until I was ready to give up.
And then came Emily. Emily who is handicapped and knows the struggles I have in learning, going through special schooling, not only learned hebrew, but has taught hebrew for the past several years.
Through Emily I have learned how patient G-d is with each of, walking beside us and rejoicing in that "I got It!" moment. How He beams when we realize "I can do this!"
My new friend Jodie told me as I learn hebrew, I will learn a lot about others, about myself.
That is true.
And one of the first lesson is to turn A head of straw into a head of Torah.

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