"Welcome to Mitzvahland!" Rabbi Benay Lappe, Rosh Yeshiva at SVARA: A Traditionally Radical Yeshiva, exclaimed these words each morning after we recited the blessing for Torah study. For me, it was an explicit reminder that we were entering a specific place, a land that can exist anywhere but might not exist everywhere.
Studying Talmud can be conversation at its deepest. Learners are in conversation with the text, with each other, with other folks who are learning, and with the divine. The text inspires questions and conversation sparks of all kinds, some involving the more mundane aspects of living on earth and others the interplay between divinity and our lives.
The daily morning liturgy includes an allusion to the creation of the world, Baruch she’amar v’haya ha’olam, Blessed is the One who spoke, and the world came into being.
The world was created through speech; we enter "mitzvahland" through the uttering of a blessing. We build worlds through our words and conversation with each other. This is at the center of what we can build through Beyn Kodesh l'Chol.
Words alone don't build worlds; we need action as well. Yet, words can announce our entry into mitzvah land, sanctify time, tie us to the very creation of the world, and connect us deeply to each other. Words and conversation create relationships that create worlds.