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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

He'll Be There

From Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg, pages 66-67, "Get Yourself Some Haverim"

A definition is in order, here.  "Haver, Haverah  (plural-haverim) is a male student who partners with another student to enhance learning. Together, haverim study and discuss the religious texts. A female study partner is a haverah (plural-haverot)." page 67.

... through the ages Jewish thinkers have considered it vital to study the Scriptures in the presence of other people. A famous line of rabbinic advice from before Jesus' time was this: 'Acquire for yourself a rabbi and get yourself a haver.' In ordinary usage, the word haver can simply mean a companion or a close friend. But here it actually means someone who is willing to partner with you in grappling with Scripture and with the rabbinic texts.

As critical as it was to study with a rabbi, it was considered essential to have one or two people who could learn right along with you. Fellow students could ask each other questions that they might be too embarrassed to ask their teachers. Also, partners could learn from each other.

Was Jesus aware of this approach to studying Scripture? Consider the words of the early rabbis, who said: 'When two sit together and exchange words of Torah, then the Divine Presence dwells among them.' Now listen to the words of Jesus: 'Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them' (Matthew 18:20). You can hardly miss the similarity. Like other Jewish teachers of his time, Jesus affirmed his followers' need for community. What's more, since Jesus is himself the Word of God, it makes sense that he would promise to be present as we come together to study the Scriptures."

Jean said:

Lord, as I read and re-read this book I'm amazed that, though Jesus' teachings were radical, they were also traditional. He surely came to fulfill, to fully-fill, the Law and the Prophets. He was so thoroughly familiar with the Scriptures and with the traditions of the Jewish faith and lifestyle. (Duh! Of course He was familiar with Scripture--he wrote it!) But, as a human being, He also studied it and memorized it and discussed it with His haverim as a child and as a young man before becoming a rabbi.

I try to imagine Jesus sitting on the Temple steps with one or two other young men discussing various passages and their own thoughts about them. It's hard for me to imagine that anyone could out think Him, or out do Him in explaining those passages.

Then my thoughts turn to my own habits of studying Your Word, God. I tend to be a loner when it comes to study. I like immersing myself in study for hours. I enjoy being alone with Your Word and my various books. But I'm reminded here that I also need to flesh out my thoughts on these passages by discussing them with other believers.

You know, Lord, like a Sunday School class. We call them Life Groups at our church. Or Bible study groups on Wednesday nights. Or in-home Bible discussion groups. We need to study Your Word together so we can clarify, synthesize, and crystallize our thoughts. So we can listen and consider what other people think the Scriptures mean, how they understand them. So we won't get stuck in our own thought patterns and start to think that our interpretation is the only right interpretation.

I need community. Not just for sharing food, fellowship, and fun. I need community for sharing knowledge and insight, questions and answers with each other. I need haverim and haverot.

God said:

Anywhere two or three (or more) believers gather in Jesus' name We will be with them. Wherever. Whenever. However.

At church. Over coffee. Even over the phone. Or online. Or via Skype. Texting. On the radio. Via closed circuit TV. By e-mail.

Two or three.

In My name.

I'll be there.