Monday, February 20, 2012

Some short comments on studying gemara after seven months

The "process" was never something that I enjoyed. I enjoy being a teacher, I didn't enjoy the four years of pedagogy courses I had to take.  I enjoy winning, not the running and practice that it took to get to that point.  I like knowing how long I have to cut a piece a wood to hold up a beam, not the math it took to figure it out.  I enjoy traveling and being in a destination and living in a different place, I don't like the flights, trains, buses, and cars it takes to get there. I just like DOING it. In Halakah I enjoy figuring out the Halakah, the end result. I like seeing if that fits into my life and if I relate to that final "judgement." Maybe I'm vain, to want to an end product, to want to see a city, or something in it's completion. I want a pay off, and I want it now! I want to see the fruit of my labors. And in all honesty, I don't think I'm vain. I realize that the pay off is greater because I worked for it. I am very present in my life, and I don't want someone to tell me to stop and smell the roses, I do enjoy my life, immensely and I find beauty in the smallest of things. I am simply goal driven, and I really like achieving my goals.  

But Gemera isn't about the end or a goal, it is about the circle...and I hate circles. You are always back to where you started.  To state it better, it's like a never ending slinky, like after going around the circle once you are barely a tiny bit higher than where you started, and if I'm stuck in a slinky, I don't even know how many times I have to go around, or if there is an end. And like Meesh's analogy (my teacher had said that learning gemera is like knowing that there is a beach, but we're only working with 2 square meters of sand at a time.), I can't even see the beach! I am just digging in my own two meters square of sand. And what am I doing? Am I inspecting sand? Am I'm digging for water? Should I be making a sand castle?

And so for me, Gemera is about the process and the circle....and making myself do something that is so far against my nature and my being.  To trust in a process that I don't yet understand, a process that seems to have no end, and to pray that one day, not only will there be a beach...water...and waves, baruch hashem, there will even be a beautiful sunset, and I will want to come back to exactly the same place the next night and hope that the sunset was just as beautiful as the one from the evening before. 

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