Tuesday, 29 March 2016
The Parables: Jewish Tradition and Christian Interpretation,
Brad H Young, Hendricksen, 1998
Chapter 11, "The Find" (pp. 199-221), page 210-211
Telling another story from the Midrash, Brad Young focuses on the need to be in the right place to learn.
Finding a centre of learning with the proper spiritual leaders was ver important. Jewish learning involved discussion and active interchange among the sages. The disciples would learn how to ask the right questions, to which their teachers could respond. This atmosphere of learning and free interaction was highly valued.
Would that that were more so today. The importance of the right environment and context for learning is significant and needs to be stressed. Here's the story:
Rabbi Jose, the son of Kisma, said, I was once walking by the way, when a man met me and greeted me, and I returned his greeting. He said to me, Rabbi, from what place are you? I said to him, I come from a great city of sages and scribes. He said to me, If you are willing to dwell with us in our place, I will give you a thousand golden dinars and precious stones and pearls. I said to him, Even if you were to give me all the silver and gold and precious stones and pearls in the world, I would not dwell anywhere but in a home of the Torah. (m. Pirkei Avot 6:9)
It is possible that the man wanted to learn Torah from Rabbi Jose ben Kisma - but it might simply have been a better job. Young concludes:
Most of the rabbis were professionals who studied Torah after working hours. Whatever the situation, Rabbi Jose could not learn enough Torah from the sages and refised to leave his own study environment ... He would not give up his occupation with Torah for any price. He was determined to stay in a place where study was a way of life.