Those of us in the Torah observant/Messianic/Hebrew roots movement - it goes by many names, but you get the idea – we’re all disciples, disciples at the same school. We’re all students. We’re just at different levels of education. And, on top of that, we have different interests. We have our core curriculum, which is the Bible and more specifically, the Torah. But, we have different electives. Some focus on temple rituals, others on Hebrew language, the names, calendar issues, extra-Biblical books, new moon, when the Sabbath starts, Shavuot timing, Passover timing, certain terminology, etc. The list goes on and on.
The thing is, with our main textbook, there is no way we’re ever going to know all there is to know about it. We can study and study and study and still be a novice. This isn’t the type of school where you learn the majority of what you need to know and graduate in 4 years. No, this is a lifetime school. So, we have plenty of time to explore electives. But, we need a good enough foundation in the basics to ensure that those electives don’t lead us away from the core curriculum.
Some of us have been attending this school longer than others, so it’s important to remember that we’re all at a different level of education. Those that have been at the school a shorter amount of time might very well know more about some of the electives than students that have been here much longer. And, students that have been here a lot longer might have a lot more education than the new students think. It appears to me that the new students start getting a little more education and begin to think that the long-time students don’t know about this information because they disagree with their conclusion.
I often get the feeling that newer students think I’m ignorant or complacent if I’m not excited about the elective course they’re taking. As I look at the younger students, I realize that I’ve taken many of the courses they’re taking. What I’ve done with that knowledge might vary from what they’re taught. Different understanding on a subject leads to the idea that I’ve never looked into it before, but different understanding is not necessarily because I have no knowledge or interest in the subject. Just because young students haven’t seen me study certain topics or don’t see me living out what that teacher says should be lived out, doesn’t mean I haven’t studied it.
In the decades that I have been at this school, I have done plenty of unlearning. I’ve taken some courses many times. Sometimes, I end up believing the same as I did when I started. Sometimes, I realize that I had things really wrong, or that something isn’t as important as I originally thought. Sometimes when the course is over, I realize that my conclusion is different from someone else’s, and their conclusion is just as valid.
I’ve attended this school my whole life. I’ve taken lots of and lots of electives. Some, I’ve taken many times. Some I’ve just taken once. Some, I didn’t even take the whole class. The overview was enough for me. I find it best to keep reviewing the core curriculum. That doesn’t mean I never take electives. It means that I spend much of my time focusing on the core – the basics, arithmetic, if you will. I can’t do well in algebra if I haven’t mastered addition and subtraction. So, I often go back and review the basics. Then I study other subjects that require a good foundation in the basics. And, with a foundation in the basics, I am more able to discern wrong teachings, wrong attitudes, wrong actions – in myself and in others.
I don’t want to spend a lot of time sharing with students that think I’m uneducated or apathetic; or with students that think they know it all or have all truth in any one (or more than one) topic. I don’t want to discuss my viewpoints with those that say they’re respectful of others’ viewpoints when their words and actions clearly show they aren’t. I want to spend time with students that realize they don’t know it all, are respectful of other students’ beliefs and are striving to be better educated and, most importantly, live out that education in all areas of life.