The Third Stage of Jewish Education

Published: 
February 11, 2015

Souce: eJewish Philanthropy

 

The first stage of Jewish education, connected to our minds, asked the question – “What do I know?” The second stage of Jewish education, connected to our hearts, asked the question – “Am I connected to what I know?” Both stages addressed the needs of their times, and yet both came with ‘shadow-sides’. We are now ready for the next step, for the third stage of Jewish education: educating for life. Educating to make us better people.

 

The third stage of Jewish education asks the questions – “How can I bring my learning into my life? How does what I know and my personal connection to this knowledge change me? How is Jewish education making me a better person?”

 

Two thousand years ago, Judaism instituted the reciting of blessings before eating. The goal of saying a blessing is not only to know the words and meaning of the blessing. The goal of saying the blessing is not only to feel connected to the words of the blessing. The goal of the blessing is ultimately to affect me and transform how I eat. The test of saying a blessing is whether it changes how I actually eat.

 

Similarly, the goal of learning Torah is not only to know content, and not only to be connected to what I know. The test of learning Torah is whether it changes how I actually live.

 

The third approach radically transforms the process of teacher-training and our whole educational system. The test is not how well the student understands the subject matter or how connected the student is to the material, but how much this knowledge and connection affect the student – after the class is over.

 

Learning well and personally connecting to the subject matter are essential steps in bringing our students to the third stage. We want the “aha” moments of personal awakening and excitement. But these moments are not the ultimate goal of Jewish education.

 

The most important moment in Jewish education occurs after the class is over – in life. Jewish education needs to give us the tools for becoming our best selves.

 

Aryeh Ben David is the Founder and Director of Ayeka: Center for Soulful Education.

Read more at eJewish Philanthropy.

Updated: Mar. 04, 2015
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