Counting the Omer with the Teen Mussar Va’ad, Northfield, NJ
Day 41 — Being Settled in One's Studies
Mityashev Libo B’Talmudo • מתישב לבו בתלמודו
By Rabbi Lisa Bock, Westlake Village, CA
On a recent car trip, my husband and I were listening to podcasts. Each was about fifteen minutes long, and we listened to several on our drive. I found each of the topics fascinating and engaging, and when one podcast finished, we went right on to the next. I was startled to realize that about a week later, I couldn’t remember the topics of these podcasts, only that we had listened to them, and that I had liked them. My husband and I began talking about them, and then I was able to remember them. A startling experience to have forgotten so completely!
One of the 48 qualities through which Torah is acquired is mityashev libo b’talmudo, being settled in one’s studies. This may also be understood as thinking deliberately in one’s study. Tiferet Yisrael suggests that if one is a teacher, this may mean that one prepares as thoroughly as possible before teaching or lecturing, reviewing everything ahead of time to make sure all is in order. We might also interpret being settled in one’s studies as studying in an orderly way, with a set time, putting away distractions (including my email and cell phone!). Midrash Shmuel adds that this means that we review what we have studied afterwards to make sure everything is clear.
Although I wasn’t listening to the podcasts to “study,” they were great insights into areas that I had not been aware of. It was great to review them and “reclaim” the learning that occurred as I was driving home. What had been missing in my “study” of these podcasts, and what applies to my life and my work as both student and teacher, is this review — reviewing the material at the end of a lesson in order to make sure everything is clear — and, this has the added benefit of reinforcing the lesson in our memory as well!
Why is being settled/thinking deliberately in one’s studies one of the ways Torah is acquired? Because to truly acquire Torah, we must also take that extra step, to not only begin our study with kavannah, with intention, but to end with kavannah as well, by reviewing what we have learned, to keep each precious teaching alive in our hearts and minds.
Why do we study each of these 48 qualities during the 49 days of counting the omer? And what do we do on the 49th day? We review each of the 48 qualities that we have been learning and integrating into our lives on the preceding 48 days!
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