The Study Partner
I recently took out a sefer – holy book – that I studied in the summer of 1980 in order to certify as a Shochet – a ritual slaughterer. I was surprised to find that it was a far more enjoyable study and challenge than the first time. The book is highly technical and my chavrusa, or study partner, at the time, a good friend, was more interested in adventure than technical details. His strong feelings influenced me. We spent 12 hours each day together, studying, practicing sharpening our knives, and standing with our rebbi, Rabbi Katz z’l, as he shechted more than a hundred animals each day. You can’t spend so much time with someone, especially a good friend, without being influenced. So, I didn’t love the Tevuot Shor thirty years ago, but, boy, do I love it now.
I can recall exactly what I felt the first time around. I have changed. My learning has changed. My thinking has changed. Everything has changed, but the months spent with B. studying this holy book, left their mark.
My love for my favorite masechata – Temurah – is also an expression of the magical learning I had with Y, my chavrusa at the time, as is my love for Kiddushin. Ketubot resonates deeper than any other tractate; a reflection of the period of my Rebbi’s greatest influence on me.
When I open a Chumash, Ramchal, or Rambam, I immediately associate the learning with my father. My grandfather speaks to me through the pages of the Tur. At least fifty times each week I open a sefer of one of the great Chassidic Masters, and I hear the voice of Reb Shlomo. The list goes on.
A sefer is not just a sefer; it is also a collection of voices and experiences.
My learning experience is evolving as I strive to attach closer to God. I increasingly feel His Presence when I learn, and then I understand why Sinai was so important. Our first experience of all of Torah was impressed onto our souls for we studied directly with the Melamaid Torah l’amo Yisrael, the Torah teacher of His nation, Israel.
If we just listen carefully enough to those impressions on our souls we will recall that first taste of studying Torah. We will hear His voice in every word and thought.
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