by Rabbi David Woznica
It is traditional to study the six chapters of Pirke Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) during the six-week period between the conclusion of Passover and the beginning of Shavuot.
Pirke Avot contains many aphorisms that have become well known to Jews, among them: “If I am not for myself who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, who am I? And If not now, when? (1:14).”, “Greet everyone with a cheerful face (1:15.)” and “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it (2:21).”
This week I shared the following from Pirke Avot during the graduation ceremony of our Wise Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning; “Rabbi Meir said, “Anyone who engages in Torah study for its own sake merits many things; more so, the entire world is worthwhile for him alone (6:1).” Rabbi Meir’s teaching is particularly appropriate for this group as they regularly study Jewish texts.
Melton is one of the most celebrated programs of our Center for Jewish Life at Stephen Wise Temple. Courses, which meet weekly for 20-25 weeks, have captivated our temple members (and some non-members as well). Next year’s classes are Jews in America, Jewish Humor, Medical and Modern Ethics, Bereshit (the book of Genesis) and more.
Those who experience Melton often refer to it as a highlight of their week. We have students who began with us nine years ago and many new students every year. In fact, over 100 have already registered for next year (classes begin in October).
There are, as the Melton literature notes, “no tests, no grades, no homework”. We are fortunate to have gifted faculty, great curriculum and each class becomes a tight knit community.
If you have a desire to learn, and to enjoy your learning as an adult, I encourage you to contact our Melton Director, Rabbi Karen Strok at Melton@wisela.org. Melton is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. And what better time to explore it than the present. If not now, when?