WHAT'S WITH THE NAME?
by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
Recently I have been attending BINA andam really enjoying it. The classes are interesting and well structured, presented in a welcoming and non-threatening way. However, I have one question. Why do you call yourselves BINA? I know it means 'understanding' but aren't there other words in Hebrew for learning and knowledge like "Chochma" or "Daat". So why Bina?
Great question. I have to be perfectly honest and tell you that the main reason is that out of all the words that represent knowledge, 'Bina' is the easiest to pronounce. Having said that, however, you have actually touched on an important idea, which is critical to Jewish learning.
In exploring new information and novel ideas, three stages ensure that the student has learned successfully and gained from the newfound wisdom:
a) Accepting that there are axiomatic truths that form the basis and foundation of the ideas we explore and study - this is known as Chochma
b) Taking these kernels of truth and translating them into well explained and developed ideas with detail and breadth. This is achieved by in depth analysis, asking questions and testing the ideas on all levels. This stage is called Bina.
c) In Jewish learning, academia on its own is insufficient. The concepts we study need to be applied. They need to transition from the theoretical to the emotional and practical. The ideas we understand must affect our passion and guide our behavior. Even well understood concepts still need to be fully absorbed and internalized. We achieve this by reviewing, reflecting and contemplating on the ideas we have learned until they become part of who we are on all levels. This process is called Da'at.
The intrinsic truths of Chochma exist before the learner begins to study. A teacher can then provide explanations and the analysis of the ideas. But it is only the student alone that can move to the third stage. Only he/she can internalize the knowledge to the point where it affects change and becomes a code for moral and appropriate behavior. No teacher can make that happen - this is the sole responsibility of the learner.
So welcome to BINA. Here we take the existing truths of Jewish wisdom (Chochma), and help you to understand them (Bina). However if you want the experience to make a difference to your life experience (Da'at) you will have to some work on your own. You can do it - wishing you lots of success.