Dan Zilberstein (Tzur Yigal, Israel)
About fourteen years ago, my awareness of the Almighty’s presence, protecting the Jewish people, began translating into practical actions. I have slowly begun to keep the commandments and to learn. How can one learn with a family, children and the obligation to provide for one’s family? I was always here, there and everywhere.
Learning half an hour with my coworker (Yaakov Pechman who had arrived from New York) helped me very much in the beginning. Then came the weekly classes of nadav Rosenberg in Rechovot. The commute was quite difficult, living in Yehud and working in Lod. When we moved to Tzur Yigal, I was forced to leave. A six-month program with Zeev Dashesvky in Bar Ilan followed, then different classes and programs. And, of course, self-study: Tanach and commentaries, halachic literature, Mishna, Jewish thought etc, in Russian and in Hebrew.
But what about the main part of the Torah – the Talmud? Just opening it was scary.
It was unintelligible. Written in Aramaic. Black cats are running around – the firstborn, the daughter of the firstborn (from tractate Brachos in the Midrash about devils) – what kind of nonsense was this?
I tried attending classes and establishing chavrusos with Israelis – attempt failed completely! An idiot I could not be – I was one of the best in math school, the best in university, a good programmer and engineer (at least that’s what the bosses and co-workers said), and languages have never been a problem either.
When the Online Chavrusa program was launched, I decided to try. Sent an e-mail. To tell the truth, I thought that nothing would come out of it, as it often happens with online questions and programs. I was pleasantly surprised upon receiving an answer. Right away, I made clear that Aramaic was like Chinese to me. Rav Natan reassured me that with time, I will get used to it.
So, we began. After a while, I joined Daf Yomi at the local synagogue. Rav Natan was right – it went fine. Talmud study broadens and elevates the understanding of many things – in Judaism and Jewish life, and in life in general. Besides, learning is important in and of itself - "ותלמוד
תורה כנגד כולם..." , as a commandment of its own.
Now, I would like to have the chavrusa more often – twice a week – so less time will be needed to upload the learned material from the virtual into the operative memory J But I’m afraid that Rav Natan won’t have the time, so I haven’t asked him yet…
Skype name: dzilbers