Baccalaureate Service Invocation
Northwestern University
June 16, 2011

Rabbi Josh Feigelson

One of the first blessings a Jew says in the morning is a blessing of Hashem, God, Melamed Torah l’amo Yisrael, who teaches Torah to God’s people Israel.

As human beings we imagine many metaphors for Hashem: Creator, monarch, savior, artist, warrior, and even shalom, peace itself.

But the image of God as teacher is one we especially cherish in the Jewish tradition. God is an educator, and thus the work of education is holy. A moment of teaching and learning is a moment of mystery and inspiration, as awe-inspiring as the birth of a child or the blossoming of a flower. God, Who constantly renews the work of Creation, is the same God who taught us at Sinai, and every day teaches us anew.

So on this day of culmination and conclusion, which is in the same breath a day of beginning and becoming, we pray for the ability to recognize that we are all learners and we are all teachers, and that the work of learning and teaching is the work of creation, the work of redemption, the work of life.

We pray for the enlightenment to see that we always have something to learn, and we always have something to teach, if only we will open our ears and unfetter our hearts.

The Torah teaches us to walk in God’s ways: As God is gracious, so too must we be gracious; as God is merciful, so too must we be merciful. To this we can add: As God is a teacher, so too must we be teachers; As God is an educator, so too must we be educators. As God has the patience of a teacher, the openness of a teacher, the integrity of a teacher, so too may we be blessed with patience, openness, and integrity—to learn, to teach, and to act upon our teaching.

Today we give thanks for years of learning, and we pray for guidance and inspiration for a lifetime of teaching and learning ahead. May we be blessed with the curiosity to ask big questions, the discernment to find wise teachers, and the courage to learn and to teach. May God be with us. Amen.