Sometimes it takes decades to pass before we can properly appreciate an experience. It took some personal reflection during Corona for me to finally express that gratitude to a teacher who inspired me.
Over the last year and a half, I’ve been learning online with the OU’s Torat Imecha Nach Yomi program, short daily podcasts by women for women, that cover a chapter at a time of the Torah books of the Prophets and Writings. I also participate in a private Whatsapp group of women who use those teachings as a springboard for further insights and discussion.
I was deeply inspired by one teacher’s evocative messages and enthusiasm for a difficult sefer, and felt compelled to write a personal note to her:
Dear Professor R.
I wanted to thank you for your thoroughly enlightening online shiurim on Sefer Iyov. You made a difficult topic understandable and meaningful for me. I especially appreciated how you connected your personal and familial experiences to the message of Iyov.
I also wanted to share with you how much I still remember a series of yours that I was privileged to attend in the summer of 1998. You gave a summer seminar in Manhattan to Seminary alumnae about women in Pshat (written torah) and medrash (oral tradition) and it still resonates with me to this day. I especially remember the material you taught about Miriam the prophetess, and it later inspired me to delve further into the topic; I’ve even been privileged to informally reteach this material (in your name) to other women over the years.
In fact, when i was in the earlier stages of motherhood and exploring and experiencing pregnancy and (natural) birth, (Im a bit of a natural birth junkie) I really connected to the birth metaphor within the exodus story from Egypt- the groans, aches and pains, blood, the breaking of waters, and at the other end, a new nation was born, with Miriam as their midwife. This approach continues to remain meaningful to me all these years later (I no longer have babies).
The enthusiasm that you had and continue to have for Tanach is inspiring and has long-lasting effects. In fact, for the first time in my life, this past year I began to fulfill a lifelong dream of teaching more regularly, and I now teach Tanach several times a month to other women in my community. The impact of your shiurim from 1998 still remains with me, and now, as i am more “grown up” and have experienced more of life’s tragedies and traumas, I can appreciate difficult material such as Iyov ; I know that your recent shiurim will have just as meaningful an impact on me going forward.
All the best,