How many times have you read your favorite book? Think not only about books you read when you were older, but also ones that were read to you as a child. If I were to count the number of times that Goodnight Moon was read to me and the number of times that I read it to my son, that number would be well over 1000.
For many of us, reading the books, and often the same book, is part of one’s bedtime routine. They offer comfort, become part of a tradition, and offer predictability in a chaotic world. Even outside of bedtime, many of us reread books. It’s comforting to get lost in the lives of our favorite characters and we might look at motivations differently as we have more life experiences. Where we once connected with the children in the story, we might now be seeing things through the eyes of the parents or grandparents. Each time we read, we learn more about the relationships between the characters and in turn learn more about ourselves.
This week, our eighth graders chanted both the final words of the Torah and the first few verses; we began the yearly cycle of re-reading the Torah. I find comfort in knowing that no matter what is happening, Jews around the world read the same portion of the Torah each week. Having the opportunity to study a text multiple times takes the pressure off of learning everything on the first pass. While the text remains the same, we change and so does our understanding.
Our tradition gives us this gift of unhurried learning. Without the pressure of rushing through texts, we can find the joy of reading and learning. At Yavneh, we take the time to dissect texts, debate meaning, grapple with complex relationships, and study in partnership. Watching students engage in this type of learning is both inspirational and comforting – our students will take the best of what our tradition has to offer and take the time to relook at ideas from a new perspective.