A little about my feelings on this day, and some revolutionary thoughts on how we should spend it.
Yom Kippur, my favourite holiday! I wanted to make video about Elul before doing on about Yom Kippur, but then I was shown how many misconceptions there are about Yom Kippur and what we are striving for that MUST be cleared up first! So happy to share with you my excitement for this incredible holiday and clear up some false ideas. Enjoy!
Does everyone here remember the refreshingly honest interview that I posted with Gila Manolson last year?? If you haven’t read it, read it NOW – I often reread it when I want to be inspired!!
There are many aspects of Judaism that everyone finds intriguing – but nothing quite as much as the concept of shomer negiah (guarding one’s touch). I only made a few short videos about the subject, and it is the one that is most asked about. I can’t begin to tell you how many people from other religions have written telling me how this idea has changed their relationships and made their lives so much better!!
Gila Manolson has written THE book on shomer negiah (it’s called The Magic Touch), and in her interview she told us that she is working on a new version specifically to benefit the lives of christians. Well… it’s out!! So all of you who are christian (or even secular or any other religion) that want to learn about this life changing idea… this is for you!
I asked her to write something specifically for you ladies on here. Here is what she wants to say to you:
Andrea tells me that a lot of you are Christians who are intrigued by the Jewish practice of hair-covering. (Aren’t Andrea’s hair-coverings unbelievably stunning?!?) And I hear that some of you are intrigued by other Jewish practices as well, including being shomer negiah, refraining from getting physical in premarital relationships–what I call “cherishing touch.” Well, I just came out with a book you’ll find interesting–it’s called Hands Off! This May Be Love: God’s Gift for Establishing Enduring Relationships, that offers a practical, down-to-earth explanation for the power of this practice, backed up by sources from ancient Jewish wisdom. You can learn more about it and order it on my site, www.gilamanolson.com. Please check it out!
This woman was one of my biggest influences when embarking on my journey towards a more meaningful life… and she still is one of my biggest inspirations! I am so happy that she came out with this book for all of you!!!
(I’m going to post this on my facebook pages but please leave a comment HERE if you want Gila to see it!!)
Don’t worry, I am totally fine and everything in my life is going well. I know more than a few of you have been concerned because I haven’t added a new post in a while.
It has come to my attention that andreagrinberg.com has been public for a year! Wow! What an incredible journey this has been… thank you all so very much for helping me make this happen!
The reason why I haven’t been able to sit down and write or make a meaningful video in a while is because of the many balls I’m attempting to hold up in the air. I’m not overdoing it, thank Gd, but I am working 2 jobs plus a lot of extra music performing and Judaism lecturing projects I’ve been asked to do. I’ve had lots of great ideas for posts (wrote some of them down… somewhere…) but haven’t made the time to sit down and get them online. And I don’t want to put anything on here unless I feel that it’s good and really needs to be heard.
Some of you have asked how I manage to make (almost) daily updates on my tichel wrapping, hair covering site, Wrapunzel. Honestly, that is super easy! It takes me a grand total of 5 minutes to snap a picture of what I’m wearing on my head today, upload, and write a witty blurb about it. And when I’m making posts about other women, they are the ones doing all the work and answering my questions! So that’s a breeze (and amazing how much popularity the site has gotten in less than 2 months online!)
Anyway, I wanted to let all of you know that everything is okay, and I am doing well. Thank you to those that asked! It means a lot to me.
What do you think I should do for the 1 year anniversary of Harmony & Synergy? Should I make a post with the articles that got the most attention over the year? A reflection post? A timeline?
Something happened to me over Tu B’Shvat this weekend that I want to share. I would love to hear if you have had similar experiences and/or if you have any feedback for me. This is not your usual “harmony & synergy” video. No inspiring conclusions, no exciting ideas… just something that I am dealing with and need your help to figure it out!
As a teenager in a high school classroom, I have received many an eye roll. I had a reputation for being brainy, but certainly wasn’t the teacher’s pet. “Boy, am I in for it” was one of the thoughts that teachers had when they found out I was to be in their class. (Yes, one of them actually told me.)
I asked a lot of questions. If a teacher didn’t explain something clearly, I asked him to clarify. If there was a point that she skipped over in order to avoid something controversial, I asked the very question she hoped to avoid. I had a sponge-like brain that was thirsty for knowledge, but that also refused to let something sink in until I had wrestled the concept to the ground and taken a good bite out of it.
(One of my mentors gave me that “wrestling” analogy recently. I think it’s pretty accurate.)
I have calmed down a bit since then. My overzealous passion for asking questions and need to understand ideas deeply has not gone away, but I have worked on my classroom attitude; I no longer ask questions unless I feel that the answer will benefit the whole class, and I try not to bring something up that teacher might not want to discuss. I avoid embarrassing others at any cost, even though it means biting my tongue (often). Now, I save my conundrums and approach the teacher after the class is over.
I want to share a story with you.
There is something that a teacher of mine did in high school that I will never forget. Something that I aim to keep with me every time that I teach or try to explain something to another human being.
It was a class that I always looked forward to. It wasn’t a mandatory credit, and the subject was difficult, so the class was small and filled with only the kids that really wanted to be there. Our teacher would often teach us stuff that was much more comprehensive than the curriculum he was given, because the class was always asking questions more advanced than what we were supposed to be learning. Even though I don’t use any of the specific concepts that we learned back then in my every day life, I regularly use the kind of learning style he encouraged. We learned the subject so well that I still get excited when I meet someone that shares a passion for it, and surprisingly, I can still hold my own (somewhat) in such nerdy conversations.
It was a normal day in the class, meaning that the lesson had already been taught and we all understood it well. Now was the time for questions and discussions; I was on a roll with my usual, “But what if…?” “How is it possible that…?” “Would one be able to…?” “Could we say that…?” The flow of the discussion was, as always, quite lively. Our teacher loved how much we enjoyed learning, and we loved how much he cared about the subject and our education. He answered our questions quickly and concisely, and we always made him clarify if we didn’t understand. Finally, I came out with a “But what about ____? How is it possible that ____ if ____?” My teacher opened his mouth, closed it and looked thoughtful. He started to speak again but then stopped himself once more to think. Finally, he gave me the answer that I will never forget: “You know what Andrea? I don’t know.”
He did even more, but first let me explain why this first part was so revolutionary. You see, up until that moment, I had never heard a teacher of mine say those three words. If I asked questions that teachers weren’t sure of, I would usually get scolded, be given extra homework, or get an eye roll with some sort of transparent answer. I had always felt that my need to seek truth and ask questions was a bad thing, an annoyance, and something that I would be much better off without. Not only did this class with the “I don’t know” teacher give me some much needed sense of self worth, it also taught me to like teachers. It taught me to recognize that they too, were human, which vastly increased my respect for them. My teacher’s “I don’t know” came from a deeply humble place. He recognized that the subject that we were discussing was important, and in that moment, he put his ego aside in order to do the right thing. My mind was blown.
But there’s more. The next thing he said was, in an excited voice, “I’m going to find out and I will let you guys know!”
And he did. The next time we had class together, he told us that he had gone to an old professor that did research on the exact subject we were discussing. This professor even brought the question to some of his colleagues before giving our teacher a definitive answer. My teacher told this answer to our class to the best extent that we could understand it.
What was so important about what my teacher did?
First of all, he was humble enough to tell his students when he wasn’t sure about an answer. He put any need that he might have to exert authority upon us on the backburner because he knew that our quest for truth and love for learning was so much more important. He didn’t have to preach respect to us, because the very fact that he loved teaching meant that he already had it. However, to simply say “I don’t know” and leave it at that could easily become a form of laziness. Instead, he took the extra time to find out the answer and give it over to us the next day. His love and passion for the subject was real. This was not just a job for him… this was important! And he was not afraid to show us that.
Since this class, I have had a few more opportunities to witness such passion and humility from another human being. And for each time it has happened, I have carried the answer given to me until this very day. I remember, in every instance, the person starting to give an answer and then realizing that he or she didn’t have the tools to give it over. I can remember how much joy it gave the person, to realize that a student had asked a question that she or he didn’t have the answer to. Most of all, I remember the spark of excitement. The curiosity. The need to find out. And the phone call or email the next day with the answer. I am smiling now from those memories, even as I write this.
This is what teaching is about.
This is an important lesson that we also have to learn as friends, parents and spouses. But especially teachers. We teach because we have something that we want to give. But that does not mean that we should stop learning ourselves. And we should be learning the most from our students. Instead of being annoyed when a student asks a question that we don’t know, we should feel indescribable nachat (pride). Because it is when a student starts creating his or her own fire that we know we have actually given something real. And you cannot give what you don’t have yourself.
Never be afraid to say, “I don’t know”.