I always listen to a lecture/teaching from a Rabbi before going to bed. We like the last thought on our minds to be some lesson that will bring us closer to our Creator. Last night we listened to Rabbi Shlomo Katz. He said the Gemara says that the most precious learning is “Girsa Deyankusa”. What does it mean that you learn like a child? It means that what you are learning is not really clear to you yet, but something special is going on. When you learn something for the first time you don’t know it all yet, but the little you know is so precious to you. Once you learn it all, it is beautiful, but it stops being precious. The highest level in the world is that I know what I learn so completely but its precious to me like it was before I knew it..
He went on to give a deeper meaning to this concept. He talked about the person who does not know that they are Jewish. They’ve lived their whole life believing they were not of the Jewish people and one day something happens to them. The person takes a trip to Yerushalayim and the whole world changes for that person. Now the life long journey of learning begins and all things are so new and precious (I know and experience this every day of my life now). I remember when I got my very first Siddur, I opened it and read the words: Prayer, a Timeless Need. I continued to read until I got to the very first prayer. I would not write in my Siddur or let anything or anyone touch it. I would not pick it up without first washing my hands. I felt as if I had a very expensive piece of gold.
As the time passed and I read and studied more on prayer and talked with a few friends on how to pray, I learned that as precious as my Siddur was, it would never be as beautiful as it could be if I don’t use it as a prayer book. Now my Siddur has all kinds of writings in it (my notes), things that really catch my eye or appeal to some feeling that I have when I read it. There are parts I read and read, but on some days they mean more to me than the very food I eat. I make a note to myself to remind me of that moment in time. The next day when I read that same passage, it may not affect me the same way. The feeling you get when you first met your spouse is not the same after 10 years of marriage, but the love grows deeper. Can we regain that feeling we had on day one? Maybe, according to the Rabbi. He went on to tell us how. But sadly, I fell asleep.
I still treat my Siddur as precious gold, but it is something that I now hold as a more beautiful piece of gold than something not to be touched. What I took from that lesson last night was that as a child, I am learning, but that learning will never feel as special as the very first time I learned. It will only grow into something much more special.