I said goodbye to a friend today. My Havruta.
Dr. Elefant was an amazing man who lived an amazing life and loved people with an amazing love. He had a thirst for learning that no one could equal. He attacked life with compassion, with a vigor and veracity rarely seen in this world. And he inspired me.
Several years ago, I began to delve into the world of Hebrew. I discovered how rich the Hebrew language was and wanted to know more. In my search, I was introduced to Dr. William Elefant. At that time he was just turning 80, but he was willing to spend time with me talking about the Hebrew language, its history and his own Jewish history.
The more questions I asked, the more I found myself embracing my own Jewish roots within my Christian faith.
When I started discussing my ideas with Dr. Elefant on the topic of DNA and how it related to Hebrew, he was not afraid to dive right in with me. He was not put off by my far reaching ideas, in fact, he embraced them with me. There are very few people in this world that we connect so closely to that we are willing to share some of the crazy “what if’s” with, but Dr. Elefant never made me feel as though I was on another planet or out of my league. He encouraged me to search for truth, something he spent his entire life doing.
He taught Hebrew in Israel as well as here in Denver. His unique technique he named, the I-We method, allowed him to teach his students with speed and clarity. He was ever searching for ways to connect the numbers 1-9 with the Old Testament verses. He instinctively knew that the Bible went much deeper than just the words on the page. He felt there were layers upon layers of meaning and that there were secrets that we had not even found yet. Each letter and how it was formed had meaning and he taught me respect for the Jewish letters and numbers. He was a philosopher and a mathematician. And he knew how to laugh.
Still to this day, the blog I wrote on the Hebrew interpretation of zeal has continued to be my most read post.
He patiently listened to my ideas of dimensions and how they fit into the ideas of the Jewish tree of life and the physics theory of everything. Sometimes I feel a twinge of jealousy to think he now knows the truth and perhaps the silliness of my ideas. He’s in heaven and I know it. He followed every Jewish law and followed it to the iota. I know that God has rewarded him with the knowledge and love that he sought as he was the good and faithful servant.
I’ve had so many mixed feelings today. Sadness at the loss of Dr. Elefant, and then joy at knowing that all his questions, all his searching ended yesterday as he took his last breath here and took his first look at eternity.
I am forever grateful for Dr. Elefant’s example to me on how to live life to the fullest. Zeal, compassion, veracity, love, patience and perseverance were his traits and he knew exactly how to use them.
Sometimes we feel we don’t touch others lives or that our lives are meaningless. Dr. Elefant would disagree. No matter how small we feel, God loves us.
He would say the Elohim made each of us with a tender kiss and waits patiently for us to return to Him. Today heaven rejoices that a man of wisdom, integrity and a never ending thirst for truth joins those holy souls. And I am sure he’s already bent the Father’s ear nonstop.
When I was looking up the word havruta to make sure I spelled it correctly, I found an interesting interpretation that Dr. Elefant had not shared with me before:
Chavruta or chavrusa (, from Aramaic for fellowship) is a traditional Rabbinic approach to learning in which pairs study a shared text in discussion and debate. It is a primary learning method used yeshivot, where participants will often acquire regular study partners of similar ability. The traditional phrase is to learn "in chavrusa", that is, in partnership: the word has come by metonymy to refer to the study partner as an individual, though it would more logically describe the pair.
He was like a Rabbi to me, but to consider me “of similar ability” is inconceivable. But I’m sure he’s shaking his head laughing at me that I finally took the time to find the true meaning of havruta. I bet he’s saying, “Loretta, Loretta, you should have studied harder!”
You will be missed. My Havruta, my friend.