Birkot HaTorah and the Churban: Lessons for Todays Jewish Classrooms
Rachel (Immerman) Glickman


The Edythe Benjamin 
beloved mother of Barbara Hanus
Rosh Hodesh Av Torah Essay

 

 

Av 5777
Birkot HaTorah and the Churban: Lessons for Today’s Jewish Classrooms

Rachel (Immerman) Glickman earned a B.A. in Jewish Education as a Legacy Heritage Scholar at Yeshiva University, and an M.A. in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School for Jewish Education. This year Rachel is a fellow in Matan's new program - The Bellows Eshkolot Institute for Tanakh and Jewish Studies. Rachel will be moving to Cleveland, Ohio with her family this fall where she will be teaching Tanakh and Gemara at Fuchs Mizrachi School. 

 

Birkot HaTorah and the Churban: Lessons for Today’s Jewish Classrooms

 

As a nation, we love asking questions; for centuries we have been asking what caused the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash.          The Gemara in Nedarim states that Jerusalem was destroyed because the Jewish people did not say Birkot HaTorah. We know that the  Beit Hamikdash was destroyed as a result of people violating the three cardinal sins. People are required to give up their lives rather than commit these sins (yehareg v’lo ya’avor – let him be killed rather than transgress) - idol-worship, prohibited illicit relations, bloodshed and in the case of the destruction of the Second Temple, baseless hatred.

 

Is it possible that neglecting to say Birkot HaTorah is equal to these grave sins? Let us take a closer look at the origin, nature, and meaning of Birkot HaTorah.     

 

To understand further we must explore the inspiration for Birkot HaTorah.  G-d’s blessing to Avraham, that “he will become a great nation” (Bereishit 18:18), is followed by a blueprint for how the nation will become great. Avraham will teach the children to behave with tzedek and mishpat, spreading what is just and right in the world. Rabbi Menachem Liebtag identifies this as the start of a mega theme in Tanakh that is revisited in Dvarim 4:5-8. 

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