Chief Rabbi’s Message about the Ma’ayan Programme
“Hashem’s Torah is perfect; it restores the soul. Hashem’s testimony is trustworthy; it makes the simple wise. The directives of Hashem are upright; they gladden the heart. Hashem’s mitzvot are clear, enlightening the eyes” (Tehillim 19:8-9)
These are the words chosen by King David to praise the Torah as the perfect and inimitable vehicle through which we can perform the will of the Almighty.
“Mitzvat Hashem Barah, Meirat Eiynayim” – the mitzvot are clear, enlightening the eyes. Rashi explains that the word ‘barah’ here means not that the mitzvot are ‘clear’ but that they ‘shine’ and it is that which ‘enlightens the eyes’. The ability to harness the shining light of our mitzvot so that they do not become a blinding glare is a very special gift which many with wisdom and experience have, enabling them to explain, guide and inspire on matters of Torah observance.
The graduates of our first Ma’ayan Programme have been achieving just that in many communities in the UK. Baruch Hashem, we have seen how kehillot have been enhanced immeasurably through having outstanding Ma’ayanot, who are blessed with the gift to ‘enlighten the eyes’ of those around them.
Building on the achievements of our first cohort, I am now delighted to launch another round of the Ma’ayan Programme, which will provide our communities with a second cohort of exceptional female educators, who will have particular expertise in matters relating to women’s health and the area of Taharat Hamishpacha (family purity). Experience shows that there is a real need within our communities to place women in a position to offer guidance and advice on issues which women members may feel more comfortable discussing with a woman. The course will also provide advanced pedagogical training with a focus on adult education – a skillset which is an essential ingredient for Jewish life to flourish. Be’ezrat Hashem, greater access to qualified and experienced women educators in our communities will encourage a greater appreciation of and adherence to Torah and mitzvot.
It is no accident that the phrase ‘Meirat Eiynayim’ can be contracted to ‘Ma’ayan’, a Hebrew word which translates as ‘fountain’ or ‘spring’. The Torah is frequently compared to water: just as there can be no existence without water, the Torah is the fundamental and eternal constant without which we as a nation simply cannot survive.
Our ‘Ma’ayanot’ will strengthen our communities’ Torah observance and learning, in order ‘Lehagdil Torah uleha’adira’ – to magnify Torah and bring glory to its name.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis