If the coronavirus era has taught us anything, it’s that even in times of crisis we must remember to take care of ourselves.
That doesn’t just mean staying physically healthy. It also means taking care of our emotional well-being, personal growth, and spiritual health. With everything happening right now in the world, Jewish tradition can offer the spiritual support we all need.
Don’t feel comfortable delving further on your own? That’s fine! In fact, the best way to learn is with a havruta — a study partner. One-on-one learning with a havruta offers a time-tested model that Jews have used for millennia to enhance their Jewish knowledge. And now, with social distancing rules precluding us from most other forms of Jewish connection, studying remotely with a partner is a welcome reprieve.
You can find a Jewish study partner online right now through the Partners in Torah remote learning program, enabling you to explore Judaism in a personalized way with a partner you select. The sessions are on your own schedule, and from the comfort of your home using your phone or the internet. No experience or prior knowledge required.
Partners in Torah has matched over 76,000 people in 29 countries for one-on-one study partnerships. Some study partners have been learning together for over 20 years.
Classes are a natural place to turn for Jewish learning, and many are excellent. But when you take a class — whether online or in-person — you’re primarily a passive participant. The class might be too easy or too difficult, you may not have the opportunity to ask all your questions, or you might find yourself daydreaming.
When you study with a havruta, or study partner, it is just the two of you. It’s a dynamic interaction with give-and-take. Pick a subject — or subjects — that interest you and embark on your personal journey of study, allowing you to digress, ask questions, argue, discuss, interrupt, or switch gears if you want to explore something new.
Here are some pro tips to help maximize your havruta experience:
1. Choose Wisely:
Choose a topic that interests you and that you find meaningful. Maybe you’ve always wondered what the Talmud is all about and want to try learning about it. Perhaps you want to study Jewish ethics. Is your son or daughter preparing for his or her bar/bat mitzvah? This is an opportunity to ensure you can read the prayers fluently in Hebrew. If you don’t know what you want to learn, that’s not a problem. Talk with your study partner, take some time to think about it, and find something that works for the two of you.
2. Be Present:
It’s just you and your study buddy. There’s no pressure to prove yourself, perform, to see or be seen, or even to be in a particular place at a particular time. Find a time that’s convenient for you, and with Partners in Torah’s model, you can do it from home or office. Maybe you want to learn early in the morning before the day begins, or as a midday break from work, or at night after the kids have gone to bed. You can do it in your pajamas, or over a cup of coffee with your phone, laptop or tablet.
3. Personal Growth:
It’s hard to find time during the hustle and bustle of daily life to take time for ourselves, let alone focus on personal growth. Setting aside time to focus on your own spiritual development, connection to Judaism, and Jewish knowledge gives you the space to do just that.
Pronounced: TALL-mud, Origin: Hebrew, the set of teachings and commentaries on the Torah that form the basis for Jewish law. Comprised of the Mishnah and the Gemara, it contains the opinions of thousands of rabbis from different periods in Jewish history.
Pronounced: khahv-ROOT-uh, Origin: Hebrew, a study partner for learning Jewish texts, the word also refers to the traditional practice of studying Jewish texts in pairs, which is considered preferable to reading them alone.
Pronounced: bar MITZ-vuh, also bar meetz-VAH, Origin: Hebrew, Jewish rite of passage for a 13-year-old boy.
Pronounced: baht MITZ-vuh, also bahs MITZ-vuh and baht meetz-VAH, Origin: Hebrew, Jewish rite of passage for a girl, observed at age 12 or 13.