Editorial - Everyone must climb their own Mount Sinai
God blessed me with the one time opportunity to interview the four new Deans of Israels Architecture schools. The chaos that characterizes the field in general, and academia in particular, must be halted. I tried to be firm, yet polite, in my questioning, hoping to evoke some sort of debate, to encourage cooperation, to once and for all understand what it is we want from the students, and for the students to understand the profession they must sort out during their five years of schooling. The interviews appear ahead, but two questions remain unanswered. The first - 'what do you tell a student at the beginning of his journey?'. The second - 'what do you say to him when he has completed his studies and is left to deal with the difficulties of reality with his 'cluttered toolbox?'.
Since I conducted my doctorate on Silent Orders, during which time I got closer to God, I shall quote two religious sources that in my opinion answer these questions best.
As for what do we say to a student at the beginning of his journey:
An educated priest asked a rabbi to explain to him the basic principles of Talmudic thought. 'I could tell you the principles but I doubt you will understand the logic behind them,' said the rabbi. 'Try me,' said the priest, whose entire life was dedicated to keeping good relations with God. 'Okay, I will ask you three questions to prove my case. The first: two people went down a sooty chimney. One came out black with soot and the other clean as white snow. Who do you think will wash himself?' 'The dirty one naturally,' answered the priest with confidence. 'Wrong!' said the rabbi. 'The clean one, because he will look at his friend, assume he too is dirty and rush to clean himself off. The second question: two people went down a sooty chimney. One came out black with soot and the other clean as white snow. Who do you think will wash himself?'. 'Well, the clean one of course,' answered the priest happily. 'Wrong again! The dirty one will look at himself, see he is dirty and hurry to clean himself off. Third question: two people went down a dirty chimney. One came out black with soot and the other clean as white snow. Who do you think will wash himself?'. The priest thought for a moment and then answered 'I do not know.' 'I told you, you would not understand the logic. If two people go down the same sooty chimney, how can one of them come out clean?'
And what should be said to a student upon completion of his studies? I have chosen to quote the wonderful concluding words of a book called 'Demanding God,' by Dr. Yair Kaspi.
'A few words of thanks to you, my reader. Knowing you were waiting encouraged me to write. Your demand for the truth forced me to avoid shortcuts. Your confusion demanded a clarity in my axioms. Your skepticism granted me the opportunity to ask difficult questions. Your faith gave me assurance when all faith was lost. The expression of boredom on your face revealed when I had lost, through blank empty words, God and myself. I gave to you what was given to me and from here you continue alone. You are accountable for your actions. Bless he who has absolved me from your punishment. I have, as I have told you, my own sins and need time for myself. I can no longer use the excuse that you need me. Are you ready? No one is ever really ready to meet God on his own. What you have yet to receive no one can grant you. Everyone must climb Mount Sinai on their own, we can give him tools, we can follow him part of the way, but we can not go up instead of him.'
p.s. Been there - its not the end of the world.
Dr. Ami Ran