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A woman named Nechama

החמה ליבוביץ

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

She could have closed herself off in academia, but instead, she went outside the ivory tower to teach Torah to everyone - students, new immigrants, soldiers, cab drivers. Professor Nechama Leibowitz Ob"m the esteemed teacher of Tanach (Bible), passed away 25 years ago today. She did not have children, but she taught ,educated and inspired multitudes, including me. I discovered her writings at the age of 15, and for the first time the weekly Torah portion seemed meaningful and relevant to my own life.

Here are two stories about her:

* An older lecturer once spoke about the time he was invited to give a class on the subject of Shmita (the Sabbatical year) in a religious moshav. He had prepared material that was profoundly complex. Nechama was in the audience, approached him at the end of the class, and said: "I wonder how much the farmers in the audience understood ..." The lecturer said that he understood her message to him, that in her classes the objective was not to demonstrate how much she knew (and she knew a lot) but to teach the public.

* A student of hers related how every time the students in her class asked questions, Nechama asked them questions in return. She did not want just to teach the material but to make the students ponder, investigate, and discover on their own. She once wrote: "Everyone needs to read the Torah in their own way, unique in this world, that never was before and never will be again."

In her memory


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