A Gathering Place for the Wise
  • How do we gather? What do we want to take away from gathering?
  • Who are the wise? How do we recognize them? Do you consider yourself one of the wise?
  • How do you prepare yourself/your space/your territory for the wise or for others?
  • What does it take for a space to be known as a gathering place of the wise?

Priya Parker, The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters

We end up gathering in ways that don’t serve us, or not connecting when we ought to.

(ד) .. יוֹסֵי בֶן יוֹעֶזֶר אוֹמֵר, יְהִי בֵיתְךָ בֵּית וַעַד לַחֲכָמִים, וֶהֱוֵי מִתְאַבֵּק בַּעֲפַר רַגְלֵיהֶם, וֶהֱוֵי שׁוֹתֶה בַצָּמָא אֶת דִּבְרֵיהֶם:

Yossi ben Yoezer said: let your house be a gathering place for the wise, be one who makes himself dirty at the dust of their feet, and be one who drinks their words thirstily

יהי ביתך בית ועד לחכמים. כיצד? מלמד שיהיה ביתו של אדם מזומן לחכמים ותלמידים ותלמידי תלמידיהם; כאדם שאומר לחבירו, "הריני משמר לך במקום פלוני":

Avot Rabbi Natan 6:1

let your house be a gathering place for the wise. How so? It is taught that a person’s house should be available/prepared for the wise, as well as for students and the students of their students, like a person who says to his fellow: “I will wait for you at the place of so-and-so”

Frank McCourt, Teacher Man

“First day of your teaching you are to stand at your classroom door and let your students know how happy you are to see them. Stand, I say. Any playwright will tell you that when the actor sits down the play sits down. The best move of all is to establish yourself as a presence and to do it outside in the hallway. Outside, I say. That’s your territory and when you’re out there you’ll be seen as a strong teacher, fearless, ready to face the swarm. That’s what a class is, a swarm. And you’re a warrior teacher. It’s something people don’t think about. Your territory is like your aura, it goes with you everywhere, in the hallways, on the stairs and, assuredly, in the classroom.”

דבר אחר: יהי ביתך בית ועד לחכמים כיצד? בזמן שתלמיד חכם נכנס אצלך לומר לך "שנה לי", אם יש בידך לשנות, שנה לו. ואם לאו, פטרהו מיד. ואל ישב לפניך לא על המטה, ולא הכסא, ולא על הספסל - אלא ישב לפניך על הארץ; וכל דבר ודבר שיצא מפיך יקבלהו עליו באימה, ביראה, ברתת ובזיע, [כדרך שקבלו אבותינו מהר סיני באימה ויראה ורתת וזיע]:

Avot Rabbi Natan 6:1

Another interpretation: let your house be a gathering place for the wise. How so? When a wise scholar comes to you and says: “teach me”, if you have something in hand to teach, teach him. If not, let him go immediately. And he should not sit before you on the bed, on the chair, or on the bench, but rather on the earth; and every single word that leaves your mouth he shall receive upon himself in awe and in fear and in trembling and in agitation, just as our ancestors received from Mount Sinai in awe and in fear and in trembling and in agitation...

(ב) יְהִי בֵיתְךָ בֵית וַעַד לַחֲכָמִים. כְּשֶׁיִּרְצוּ הַחֲכָמִים לְהִתְקַבֵּץ וּלְהִוָּעֵד, יִהְיֶה בֵּיתְךָ מוּכָן לְדָבָר זֶה, שֶׁיִּהְיוּ רְגִילִים לוֹמַר נִתְקַבֵּץ בַּבַּיִת שֶׁל פְּלוֹנִי. שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁלֹּא תִּלְמֹד מֵהֶם אֵיזֶה דְּבַר חָכְמָה. מָשְׁלוּ מָשָׁל לְמַה הַדָּבָר דּוֹמֶה, לְנִכְנָס לַחֲנוּתוֹ שֶׁל בַּשָּׂם, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא לָקַח כְּלוּם, מִכָּל מָקוֹם רֵיחַ טוֹב קָלַט וְהוֹצִיא עִמּוֹ: ​​​​​​​

(2) "May your house be a meeting place for the sages": When the sages wish to gather together or to meet, let your house be ready for this purpose, so that they will become accustomed to saying "Let us gather at so and so’s house." For it is not possible that you will not learn some bit of wisdom from them. They stated allegorically," To what can this be compared? To one who entered a perfumer’s shop; though he did not purchase anything, in any case he soaked up a good scent and brought it out with him. "