The elections are over. And one day after the elections – is the Yahrzeit of Nehama Leibowitz. Twenty-two years ago, today, the great Torah teacher who changed my life, passed away. I was a 15-year-old girl when I discovered her wonderful book series on the weekly Torah Portions. A whole new world was revealed to me. A world that is all Nehama. She was an admired professor, laureate of the prestigious Israel Prize – but on her tombstone only one thing was written: “A Teacher”. This was her request, and indeed, this was the most accurate title. Instead of sitting in the ivory tower of academia, Nehama wanted to make Torah accessible to everyone: to the taxi drive, to the soldier, to the new Oleh, to the kibbutznik – all of whom she connected to our eternal pulse, regardless of which party they voted for. She did it through Torah classes and lectures, and later also through the innovative project of publishing and sending short Torah learning sheets, which were sent through snail-mail within Israel and all over the world. Precisely during the beginning years of the country, when people tried to undermine the importance of keeping tradition, Nehama added to the Zionist undertaking, its necessary foundation: Rashi, Ramban (Nahmanides), Rabbi Saadia Gaon, Rambam (Maimonides).
“Our purpose is not to increase knowledge”, she once said to teachers, “Our purpose is to increase love for the Torah.” Once she approached a lecturer who spoke in length, using sophisticated words, and scolded him: “Our purpose is not to show everything that we know.” And at the beginning of one of her books she wrote the following wonderful sentence: “Everyone must strive to read the Torah their own way, a way that is suitable for their spirit and mind, a way that is unique in this world, that has never been before them and that will not be after them.” Starting at the age of 15, she has made me look for my own way of reading the Torah.
In her memory.