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The Somewhat Litvshe Yid

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Me and my Rav

I am very lucky. No...scratch that, I don't think it's a very Jewish perspective to consider oneself lucky. It smacks of being over on Lo Seylech Iti B'keri, that things just happen. I've been truely blessed in that I've been able to fulfil the dictum of Chazal, Aseh Lecha Rav. Thank G-d, down the street from me, lives a walking Sefer Torah.
He's a young man, about 7-8 years older then me. A man who, as of yet, has not acheived reknown in the Torah world. Though I hope that will change someday in the not so distant future, since he is without a doubt an Otzar Balum.
In any event he is a man who has all of Shas and Poskim at his finger tips. Everything. No joke. No exaggeration. I have never come across a sugiya that he isn't holding in. I've never seen a Rishon, or Achron, for that matter the he isn't intimatly familar with.
I'll give you a startling example from a week ago. A certain halacha caught my eye, (the requirement to have a completed kesuba before the chupa, if you're interested) and I was looking at the Rambam and nosei keilim. I looked in the index in the Frankel to see which Achronim discuss the matter and I was happy to see that the Yad David deals with it. I was fortunate enough to find a copy of the Yad David in the back of a sforim store in Meah Shearim a year ago, but hadn't really had time to look at it.
As an aside, the Yad David is three volumes on Hilchos Ishus of the Rambam (only Hilchos Ishus, there's about 2-3 lines of Rambam on a page and the rest very small Rashi script expounding on it). It was written by HaRav Dovid Friedman ZT'L, known as Rav Dovid'l Karliner, as he was the Rav of Karlin in Lithuania for many decades. If you've read Making of a Godol, you'll know that he was considered to be on the same level as Rav Chaim in learning and chidush.
Now, I know my Rav isn't currently learning the sugiya, we talk often and I have a good idea what topics he's learning at any given time. Additionally, as great as Rav Dovid'l was, he's not commonly learned in Yeshivas, at least not the Yad David. The Sheilas David is more common.
So I read through Rav Dovid's comment and how he disagrees with the Magid Mishneh and I don't grasp his answer. I figure I'll take the sefer over to my Rav and ask him to look it over with me. I run into him at shul after maariv and start walking him home. I mention that I didn't understand a certain point in the Yad David and he asks which one. I mention the Rambam and he tells me where on the page it is in the Yad David and that he knows what I'm talking about and he'll learn the sugiya through with me.
I was, to put it mildly, flabbergasted. We're not talking a Reb Akiva Eiger here, that any serious lamdan might know. We're talking a less well known Achron on a somewhat esoteric topic. And he knew it.
This happens almost every week. He's holding in sforim he learned when he was in high school and hasn't seen since. I drive him to his Yeshiva a few days a week, which is the highlight of my week mind you, where we can learn through whatever sugiya is on his mind. We don't always have the necessary gemara's or Rambams or whatever. It never matters. He knows it all, by heart. Gemara, Rambam, Rif, Rosh, Rashi, Tosefos. Word by word. Including variant manuscripts.
Now, one might say, this is someone who spends all his time in limudei kodesh. Except, he knows philosophy. Can quote Aristotle, Kant, Spinoza. You should here when someone mentions Hobbes, he has nothing nice to say about the Leviathan. He's also holding in Phyics and doctorate level mathematics.
If he would care to comment, Rav YH can back me up on this, since he knows my Rav as well.

I am, truely, amongst the blessed.


  • "He's a young man, about 7-8 years older then me. "

    can i ask how old you are?

    who is rav YH? (rabbi henkin??)

    By Blogger anonymous, at Thursday, June 02, 2005 4:03:00 PM  

  • I'm 33. Rav YH is not Rav Henkin. He's a friend of mine who is a tremendous talmid chocham, learns seriously, gives shiur in a post-high school Yeshiva and has a real job at the same time, in the derech of the Alter of Kelem who while being the Rosh Yeshiva, still made had a job and made his parnasa, not from Torah, but from the work of his hands.

    By Blogger Litvshe, at Thursday, June 02, 2005 4:34:00 PM  

  • your Rav sounds fascinating. is he an auto-didact in the philosophy sphere? has he written anything?

    By Blogger The Rabbi's Kid, at Thursday, June 02, 2005 5:51:00 PM  

  • He is an auto-didact in most spheres actually. Any articles he's published have been strictly in learing and in the Torah journal his Yeshiva puts out. He is currently working on a sefer, which, G-d willing, I'll have the z'chus of helping on. His wife has started pushing him to publish, which is a good sign. I know I have for a couple years. But, he's a perfectionist when it comes to learning, so is never totally happy with his chiddushim.

    By Blogger Litvshe, at Thursday, June 02, 2005 6:01:00 PM  

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