In Pirkei Avos, Rebbe Yehoshuah ben Perachya advises us, “asseh lecha Rav, u’kenei lecha chaver” – make for yourself a Rav, and acquire for yourself a friend. From the day our Torah was given at Sinai, it contained two halves that could never be divided. Torah Shebechtav (the Written Torah) can only be understood through the lens of Torah Shebal Peh (the Oral Torah), the Torah passed down through the mesorah. Learning from written books and articles can only enable one to get so far. It is the living, breathing Torah, that is passed from the mouth of the teacher to the attentive ear of the student, that forms the core of Jewish learning. So much more can be understood through a teacher’s expressions, hand motions, and places of emphasis. These are lost on the written page. Italics and exclamation points will never be able to express the enthusiasm and love that a teacher wishes to pass down to his/her students.
After finishing seminary, I continued to study Torah through sefarim and chavrusas. But I missed the involvement of being in a classroom and the give and take between teacher and student. I missed the excitement of enthusiastic teachers conveying their love of Torah and Hashem through perhaps a Rashi they found particularly beautiful. I missed the after-class debates as students struggled to interpret what the teacher had said.
And then I found Naaleh. Through video lectures and forums for students to post comments on classes, Naaleh has found a way to bring the classroom to those of us who can’t go to the classroom. I love feeling the excitement of being in a classroom once again. Torah learning cannot take place in a vacuum. One needs a Rav and one needs fellow students to truly learn Torah. Thank you Naaleh for giving me both.
– Ayala, New York, NY