Time for a Tuesday TorahTutors Tidbit: real Torah, from real TorahTutors sessions… and even, from a real TorahTutors student.
A teenage TorahTutors student was exploring the text of Eichah and had a beautiful insight.
Towards the end of Eichah Chapter 3, the topic turns to repentance: “Let us search and examine our ways and turn back to the Lord. Let us lift up our hearts with (lit. to) our hands to God in heaven” (3:40-41, according to the JPS 1985 translation).
What does it mean to “lift up our hearts with our hands”?
The student had recently studied with her tutor the idea that actions shape our characters, and suggested this interpretation: “How do we lift our hearts to God? With our hands. We can get closer to God (in our hearts) through repeated patterns of concrete action (our hands), in order to cultivate tendencies we want and get rid of tendencies we don’t want.”
As often happens in interactive, engaging learning sessions, the tutor was inspired by the student’s reading: the insight and ability to connect ideas that she demonstrated, the concept itself as well as the imagery behind it – and, of course, the opportunity to show the student how her interpretation stemmed from the translation she read, and to explore commentaries who understand “to our hands” differently and offer further angles of insight and connection.
This is the richness of Jewish text learning, and we are so privileged at TorahTutors.org to help bring others into that depth and breadth.