Rabbanit Shira Mirvis will be giving two special free, live, and interactive online shiurim on the Sundays prior to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
WebYeshiva spoke with her about her journey, her teaching and her thoughts for the new year:
The privilege to have been able to clear my schedule and actually sit and learn full time for five full years. Not just doing it but thinking it, living it day and night. It brought me to where I am today and was a huge privilege not everyone is allowed, and I am very grateful. It will always be very meaningful to me.
What do you like learning most?
I love to learn halacha, specifically Hishtalshut halacha, -how it developed from the time of the Chumash down through our days. It is so fascinating to see its path from the times of the Tanach, through after the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, through the times of the Gemara, through the various galuyot, diasporas, etc, and see what happened to Torah Sheh B’al Peh and how it was modified throughout the years.
The Importance in Remembering the Past
You gave a special shiur for WebYeshiva on Tisha B’Av. Why is Tisha B’Av still relevant today?
I think it is relevant every year, every generation and I see Tisha B’av as a kind of stop sign. Some 3000 years ago Yirmiyahu the Prophet was crying about the Beit Hamikdash. Today, we live in a society which is so polarized, full of unfortunate arguments, and people disrespecting one another in very painful ways.
Like a stop sign Tisha B’av gives us the opportunity to put on the brakes and think: how did we arrive at such a place? How is this similar to the time leading up to the destruction and what can we learn from this, to not repeat such things in our generation.
Part of what I think we will discover is changing the language and the way we act together as a Jewish community both in Israel and the diaspora is the key. We must recognize there is a lot of work to be done, always.
Thoughts for the New Year
You will be giving two special upcoming shiurim, one on the Sunday before Rosh Hashanah and one on the Sunday before Yom Kippur. What are some of your thoughts on the coming year and what we need to be doing as a People?
I think the beauty of Rosh Hashana this year, like every year, is the ability to start from the beginning.
I believe that this year, we need to take advantage of all that is in our power to really do a -“restart,” to allow ourselves, in our private lives as well, a clean slate. We need to reflect, fix our mistakes, and think about what we do with a new set of eyes.
We need to enter this year with true intentions in our hearts of how we can create a better existence and experience for our community.
Surprising as it may be, the pandemic, which is not going away so quickly, is demanding from us a certain level of social responsibility. It’s an existence of “שויתי ה׳ לנגדי תמיד” -I have set HaShem always before me.
On an individual level it means to always live with the knowledge that God is with me, and to therefore think about how I am living and creating a just society, a moral society, a truthful society, a society which sees the people that dwell within it.
Each person needs to think about the way they care for the people around them.
Sometimes, we have to do things that aren’t comfortable for us, such as wearing masks. But we need to do so with mindfulness, and with the understanding that our actions have an effect on the people surrounding us. Whether it’s in our family, our congregation, and especially for all of Am Yisrael, the message is : “כל ישראל ערבים זה לזה – All of Israel is responsible for one another”