Torah Im Derech Eretz: The Power of “Lunch and Learn”
.jpg” alt=”" width=”300″ height=”241″ />For many years, I’ve led a weekly “Lunch and Learn” program on Wednesdays at 12:10 p.m. It moved from place to place as law firms moved and consolidated, as members
moved from firm to firm, and, finally, as MetroKlub opened its doors downtown.
The program ranged from 10 people or more to even just a few regulars, loyal every-weekers. You would never know who was coming, which new people would come, which people would move on to another shiur or another schedule. However, the people who participated have been some of the most important leaders in our community. It is really because of this shiur that people connected with Anshe Sholom, and eventually joined and helped build our eruv, day school and mikvah. Others moved on to make aliya or to become leaders of other synagogues throughout the country. More than any other shiur I give throughout the week, the “Lunch and Learn” inspires me to appreciate the commitment of my members and non-members to Torah and community.
This “Lunch and Learn” embodies Torah with Derech Eretz – the “way of the land” – the way we contribute to creating a world which works and functions. It symbolizes that Torah and work are not mutually exclusive. With enough effort, we can find ways of bring the two together – bringing Torah to where we work, and bringing the energy we bring to our jobs to the Torah that we learn. And if we can combine Torah Im Derech Eretz with good, kosher food, in a kosher establishment – then Torah and hard work come together with mitzvot as well.
Moreover, some of the people who regularly attend a monthly “Lunch and Learn” that I give in Skokie on Thursdays (currently at Ken’s Diner) are also retirees. The message that they send is that while they may have retired from working at jobs that pay them money, their “derech eretz” and Torah continue in their volunteer activities and Torah learning.
The “Lunch and Learn” programs all over Chicago and the world are a tribute to our
Jewish brothers and sisters who understand that contributing to the world while keeping Torah the central focus and foundation of our lives is an age old tradition.