Sunday, February 10, 2008

My Partners in Torah Learning Partner

Although my first priority in life, besides serving Hashem, is to give propper care, attention and love to my wife and children, I have felt bad that I wasn't doing much for anyone, where I didn't also have some personal interest at stake. The problem is that between doing what I can for my family's needs, doing my own learning before davening each day, working full-time, and my heavy obligations as a part-time evening law student, there really was no other time to do something that wasn't purely done for someone else. Now, if it were a choice between neglecting my wife or children, or not fulfilling my responsibilities at work or in law school, then I would have to accept that it is Hashem's will that I not "do for others" right now. However, if it were possible, I felt that I should do something more.

At any rate, in a conversation with a Dixie Yid reader a few months ago, my e-friend suggested that I do Partners in Torah, where they match up people who want to learn with people who are willing to study with them. They match people up people based on what each person is capable of/interested in teaching others, and what the other partner is interested in learning. They also match people up based on the times/days that they are able to study.

After a couple of months of mulling over his suggestion, I decided to give it a try. Because I have virtually no other time, I told them that I didn't know if I could help out at all, but that my morning commute to work and my evening commute to law school were the only times that I could learn with someone. Also, I was concerned that I couldn't learn anything heavily textual at that time, since I was driving. But sure enough, they quickly found someone who was interested in learning something during the time I was driving.

The folks at P.I.T. pre-screen participants for all of the factors I mentioned, plus they verify halachic Jewishness, so that doesn't have to be a concern.
I have now been studying with Bob for a couple of months and it's a great experience. He lives in a city in America where the Orthodox Shul barely has a minyan once a week on Thursday mornings. He's recently been becoming more observant and his story is refreshing and inspiring.

Bob initially wanted to spend some time on the NJOP Hebrew Reading Crash Course Part II, and spend the rest of our time learning the meaning of various parts of davening. However, once we got started on breaking down words of tefillah into their component shorashim (roots), prefixes and suffixes, we found that just understanding the Hebrew, and the connections between different words with the same shoresh, lead to deep discussions about the biggest concepts in Yiddishkeit and Chassidus.

Just this week, we were learning the line in Asheri, "ולגדולתו אין חקר," "and there can be no analyzing His greatness," which brought out another fundamental discussion, essential to understanding Jewish thought and the tefillos. We talked about how a finite person cannot have the hubris to think that he can understand or analyze the plans and greatness of the Infinite G-d, and how this understanding is fundamental to approaching things we see in the world in general, and in approaching tefillah with humility as well.

The bottom line is that I am writing this to tell you that no matter how busy you are, and whether you are a man or a woman, there are more participants looking to study with someone than there are mentors. So they will have someone for you. And there is probably someone out there who has similar interests and schedulings needs as you. So either call (800-STUDY-4-2) or sign up on Partners In Torah's website and volunteer to learn with someone else, or get yourself a mentor!

-Dixie Yid

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