Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

10 Shevat 5766 - February 8, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

by Gita Gordon

Serializing a new novel.

Chapter 13: Mir Yeshiva (April 2001)

We return to Dean-Daniel who has spent the recent months in Israel in a chareidi environment that he "happened" into when fleeing criminals. He has made a lot of progress.

Part 1

Rav Dov listened carefully to the words of the person who some months before had been Dean Barton, and was now Daniel Bar-on.

"Your brother-in-law doesn't need me any more. He can walk to shul on his own. He didn't want his old chavrusa to come and learn with him just because he was sorry for him. Now his mobility is much improved. More important still, his speech is nearly totally clear. There is an odd slurring here and there, but nothing that bothers him so much that he doesn't want to meet with people. His old chavrusa was invited to visit and they plan to start learning together again."

Rav Dov knew these things, but he listened patiently. He knew what would be coming next, a request to join the Mir yeshiva. But the young man could not possibly be ready for such a step and it would be his unpleasant duty to tell him so.

"You did a good job. My sister told me about the exercises you did with him."

"No, he did it himself. He was determined to get fit. I am telling you this because now he no longer needs me. But now I need your help once again. You said when I knew more I could come and learn here."

Rav Dov remembered the conversation. "I meant in a few years, not little less than a year."

However Daniel was not to be put off so easily. "Perhaps that is what you meant. But it is not what you said. Why don't you test me? You know that I had a good teacher, an excellent teacher. He invested all his energy into teaching me. He showed me a whole new world."

Rav Dov opened his gemora, selected a passage and slowly began to find out what the young man before him had managed to learn. His initial look of discomfit slowly turned to one of pleasure. "You have learned a lot. I can't believe this is the same person who didn't know his alef beis. Go to the dining room, have some lunch and come back to me at four o'clock. I need some time to think."

Daniel went to the dining room. It was crowded and noisy. He took some food and went to a corner table. After bentching he went to the beis medrash, opened a gemora and began to learn quietly by himself. At four sharp, he knocked at Rav Dov's door.

He went in and he was motioned to sit on the chair. Daniel was nervous now, wondering if he would be accepted. He felt safe within these walls. He rubbed a small piece of trouser material back and forth between his fingers, and then, realizing what he was doing, stopped and clasped his hands together. Once again Rav Dov had this strange feeling that something obvious was staring him in the face and he was missing it.

After some moments of heavy silence Rav Dov began to speak. "There are twins who have applied here. They're not identical. One boy learns easily and one with difficulty. How can I accept one and turn away the other? It is not an easy thing. This problem came to me this morning a little while before you arrived.

"If you will learn with the less able boy, then I can accept you. You must be as patient with him as my brother was with you. Usually the young men here have freedom to change chavrusas, to arrange things among themselves. With you, there will be no such freedom. Do you understand precisely what I am telling you?"

Even as he spoke, Rav Dov was worried about the decision he was making. There were other young men, already at Mir, who could prove as suitable — no, maybe more suitable — for this task.

"Yes, I understand. At present I am not up to standard. Even should I improve, I will have to learn with the same bochur. Yes, it seems fair to me. After all, it is a small way of paying back all that has been taught to me in these last months."

"Good. I will call my sister. I will make arrangements here. You will begin on the first day of the next zman."


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