What Yeshiva Taught me About Creating


After high school, I spent a year at a women’s yeshiva in Israel. Upon arrival, I could tell right away which women were continuing their studies from the year before: they had already claimed their makom kavuah, or a set space, for studying. The study hall was filled with tables and we newbies would move from table to table but these women had their established spots with their books and supplies all lined up.  As the year progressed and we became more serious about our studies,  most of us claimed our own spots as well. We were taking our charge to study ancient texts seriously and our actions reflected that.


I learned many things that year and one of them was this lesson: if you want to pursue something seriously, you have to set aside a bit of space in which to do it. This is crucial for all of us , especially artists.

Now, don’t get scared.  This space of yours doesn’t have to be big or fancy, it just has to be yours.  And, preferably with a door. One year my music room was my son’s walk-in closet. I set up my electric piano with headphones in there and would sneak in and out of his room when he was asleep. That was fine. Not fancy, not available every second, I had to be quieter than I would have preferred, but it was my space and it served it’s purpose well. I wrote a lot of music in there.


The Talmud in Shabbat 31a states that, after a person dies, they are brought before God to reckon for their life. God asks them four questions, of which one is, “Did you set aside regular time to study Torah?” In other words, did you carve out time for the important things? 


So, here’s the second part of this equation. Now that you’ve got your few feet of space you also need to do is to create some time for your creative endeavor. Just like you’ve got to carve out some sort of space for yourself, you’ve got to carve out time to focus on your creative project.

For years my Dad said to me almost daily, “There are 168 hours in the week. How are you going to spend them?” So here’s my question to you: can you carve out one hour a week, for starters?  How about 6:00 -7:00 AM every Sunday? Or every Tuesday evenings after work from 8:00 – 9:00 PM? I know you have kids, I know you work, I know you have commitments, I know you’re taking care of other people. I know all of that.  But I also know that if you can’t find an hour of your week to set aside, you’re just not ready to start. And that’s fine.

But, when you are ready to get jump into your metalwork/still-life painting/writing your opera/whatever it is, make sure to respect your self enough by:

  1. Finding a small corner of the world that can be yours, and
  2. Carving out an hour of time from your hectic week.

Because what you’re saying (to yourself and the world) when you set aside space and time to create things is: I’m serious about doing this.  I’m done messing around.

And then you can just enjoy. And don’t ruin it by expecting your art to come out any particular way or wanting it to make you famous.  Just create! And then come back next week and do a little more, and a bit more the week after that, and a bit more after that. No divas, no drama. Just pure work.

Happy creating!


3 thoughts on “What Yeshiva Taught me About Creating

  1. Wow!
    Yes its very important to plan and set up time to do what’s right and best, as Chazal said and Rav Alkabetz says Sof Ma’aseh Bemachashavah Techila, plan – think then do!

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