Sometimes I prepare for a class that simply doesn’t happen. I had one of those this week: I was to teach a three-week class on Food and Jewish Ethics, and the timing simply wasn’t right. There were not enough people signed up, and the management at Lehrhaus Judaica and I regretfully pulled the plug.
It’s a pity, because I was really excited about it. I was going to spend the first class meeting talking a bit about how Jews do ethics. Then we were going to brainstorm what ethical issues come up when one contemplates the dinner table, and choose two to four topics to hash out over the remaining classes. The specifics would be driven by their interests. But 10 am on Wednesdays was not a good time, despite some interest, so we’ll have to find another time slot and give it a go perhaps in the fall, perhaps in the evening.
So, was the preparation a waste? Not at all. For one thing, those lovingly prepared lesson plans are waiting in my Dropbox folder for another opportunity. All I will need to do is refresh my memory, see if any new ideas have sprouted in the back of my mind since I prepared them, and I’m off to the races. So that’s all good.
But there’s a deeper reason why it wasn’t a waste: time spent studying Torah is never wasted. I approach my own table now with renewed awareness. When I pick up a piece of nice matzah, I am drawn to read the back of the box: where did it come from? Who made it? When I look at the vegetables in the fridge, I am much more aware of a host of issues. The chapters I read on hunger led to check on the status supplies at my local food bank (not good), leading me to dig a little deeper for tzedakah.
As Mishnah Peah 1.1 says, “Talmud Torah keneged kulam” — “the study of Torah leads to them all” [the things that are valuable both in this world and in the world to come.]
And those are my thoughts at the beginning of Day 5 of the Omer.
- Resources for ethics: Ethical wills (ASL video) (terptrans.com)