In our tradition the study of Torah often takes on a ritualized role similar to that of a prayer service. A specific place—the Beit Midrash, or “House of Study”–is a designated room, similar to a library, set aside in many Jewish communal buildings to enhance the study process. The role of study is so important to who we are that many Jews carve out set times during the day or week for intense Torah study.
Traditionally, Torah study begins with the recitation of a prayer, thanking God for the “commandment to engage in the study of the words of Torah.” The Talmud even records specific prayers for entering and leaving a Beit Midrash. These prayers focus on the individual’s ability to have an open mind not only to the material studied, but also to the thoughts of those that are involved in the learning process.
At CBJ Jewish study focuses not on simple absorption of material, but on a dialogue among God, those involved in the study process, and the text itself. This is an important approach. The material being studied has the power to elevate our thoughts, our insights, and our relationship to others as well as with God. The time spent engaged in Torah study has the power to transform our lives, connecting us to the generations that came before us and to the generations to come.