I love to teach. Teaching connects me to students, and students to learning. That experience touches me emotionally, intellectually, ethically, and spiritually. I can think of few other spaces and actions that enable people to attain such intimacy, when they talk and listen to the other, when they and their counterparts learn together and grow through their learning. To put it slightly differently, teaching enhances relationships; relationships enhance teaching.
I try to bring the various facets of my personality and my life into teaching: my heart, my mind, and my life story, beyond the subject matter. A teacher needs to inspire students, to create the space for reflection. They also need to connect learning to life; learning itself requires commitment because is may bring students to strange and even uncomfortable places, but that also may lead students to commit to it and to ideas and actions beyond the classroom.
For ten years studying in Me’ah [and beyond], I have asked questions without finding answers. David not only didn’t give me answers but often gave me more questions. Donald Silverman, student
I taught a course on Zionism, in a rabbinical school. One of the students told me in advance her concerns, mainly owing to her agnosticism about modern nationalism. With that in mind, I told the class at the outset that they needed to “bracket” their attitudes, to the extent that they needed to let the material hit them full on. The teacher respects the autonomy of the learner; the learner respects the autonomy of the subject: that forms the covenant of a class. Several weeks later this same student told me that of all the thinker’s we’d studied she’d most enjoyed Vladimir Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist Zionism. We had reached a different, deeper place.