Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I hang out in Flatbush.
Until a few years ago, I hung out in Boro Park, where I did a lot of my growing up. But not all of it. I had done the earlier part of by growing up in the Midwest. I would return to the Midwest to take my high school education.
Up to a point, all my education was traditional yeshiva education. In elementary school, I learned the alef-beis, how to daven, Chumash, Chumash-with-Rashi, Mishnayos and, finally, beginning Gemara. In the upper elementary grades, I was also exposed to a fair amount of halacha, particularly Kitzur Shulachan Aruch. In the highest elementary grade, I received my initial introduction to works of musar: Orchos Tzadikim, Mesilas Yesharim, etc. (I neglected to mention that the curriculum also covered a certain amount of Tanach.)
As already indicated, upon completion of elementary school, I ventured out into the Midwest to attend a major yeshiva high school. My level of learning rose precipitously. From the very first, the method of instruction took a major leap forward. Previously, my classmates and I would (try to) sit at our desks, while the rebbi, sitting up front and facing us, would read a passage from the Gemara for our benefit. We would listen as attentively as possible, following the progression of his recital in our own Gemaras, which lay open (to the right page) upon our desks. Quite frequently, the rebbi, interrupting his reading, would look up and endeavor to explain to us, orally, a fine point of Talmudic reasoning. Some of us would comprehend it; some of us would not. He would routinely dote on a student whose understanding was suspect, demanding that he repeat the explanation in his own words. When the poor student proved incapable of obliging, our rebbi would next heap his attention on another student, to see if he might fare any better. Soon enough, it would become patently evident that a sizeable number of students had been left virtually clueless. At that point, the rebbi would repeat the explanation once more for everyone’s benefit. He might even retrace his steps in the reading, and commence his recital from the point at which he had originally begun. To us, sitting at our desks, this was a lesson not merely in Gemara study; it also taught us how to exercise patience and tolerance in relation to our fellow Jews.
As I had begun to say, once having arrived in yeshiva high school, I found myself confronted with a drastically altered approach. However, at this point, I’m afraid I will need to extricate myself from autobiographical mode and slip into profile mode. If you really are interested in knowing the rest of the story, you will undoubtedly flash me a message, expressing your interest. Then we can take it up together offline, or at least offsite. So let me just finish off by telling you that, after high school, I continued onto yeshiva beis medrash. And after that I went to a fancy shmancy university up in Boston where I studied philosophy and tried to gain a lot of fame. Eventually, I returned to Brooklyn and, thank G-d, made a lot of money working in computers and, also, teaching college. Here in Flatbush, I keep the company of the finest benei Torah and daven in the most select of batei medrashim. Still, there’s no reason for you to be intimidated by me, as I exude a lot of personal warmth and am, in fact, quite approachable. 
I could go on and on; but as you can see, I’m trying to keep it manageable.

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