Honoring a Teacher at the End of the Year

By CLAL
smiling woman playing with young boy smiling in a wheelchair
It has been said that teachers think they're teaching us what they know, they hope they're teaching us what they believe, but all they can ever really teach us is who they are. At the end of a year of learning with a teacher, we may feel we have learned what we came to learn, we may feel frustrated that we did not master more of the information we sought, we may feel awed by how much there is yet to learn, and we may feel that we have been deeply changed by the experience.
 
Barukh atah honen ha'da'at
 
Blessed is the One who has graced us with intelligence

Meditation:
When study had been completed in Rabbi Ammi's school, students would say to each other:
May you see your world in your lifetime...
May your eyes sparkle with the light of the Torah, And your face shine like the brilliance of the heavens. May you speak words of wisdom, and may the deeds of righteousness you do fill your body with joy. And may your feet hurry to hear the words of the Ancient One, who sets the cycles in motion.
(Babylonian Talmud: Brakhot 17a, adapted from a translation by Danny Siegel)
 
Ritual:
We are blessed when we teach what we have learned in the name of the person who taught it to us. Before your classes come to an end, honor your teachers by telling them the "torah" (which means "teaching" or "instruction") that you, in turn, will teach in their name.
 
Blessing:
(As you depart from your teacher)
Atah honen l'adam da'at um'lamed le'enosh binah. Honeinu mei'itkha dei'ah binah v'haskeil.
Barukh atah Adonai honen ha'da'at.
 
You graciously endow us with intelligence, teaching wisdom and understanding. Grant us knowledge, discernment, and wisdom. Praised are You, God, who graciously grants intelligence.
 
(Bless your teacher)
May you be blessed and strengthened as you have blessed
and strengthened your student.
May you have peace, grace, kindness, mercy, long life and
everything you need.
(From Kaddish d'Rabanan)
 
Teaching:
Why are the words of Torah like fire? A fire is built by many logs, and the words of Torah survive only through many minds.
(Adapted front Babylonian Talmud: Ta'anit 7a)
 
Rabbi Elazar ben Shamua taught: "The dignity of your students should be as precious to you as your own. The dignity of your colleagues should be as precious to you as your reverence for your teacher. The reverence for your teacher should be as great as your reverence for God."
(Pirkei Avot 4:15)

From The Book of Jewish Sacred Practices: Clal’s Guide to Everyday & Holiday Rituals & Blessings, edited by Rabbi Irwin Kula and Vanessa L. Ochs, Ph.D., Jewish Lights, 2001.

 

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