The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Morning Chaburah

For the past five and a half years, I have been attending a morning Chaburah given by my Rebbe at my shul. The chaburah meets at 6 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays. (On Fridays there are two different chaburahs; one that meets at 6 and learns the teachings of the Rebbe of Piaczezna, the Aish Kodesh, HYD, after whom our shul is named, and a second, for the late sleepers, meets at 8 to learn Oros Hateshuva by Rav A.Y. Kook Hakohen, ZTL).

Until a couple of weeks ago we had been learning a sefer called Imri Yaakov which is a peirush on Choshen Mishpat of the Shulchan Aruch of the Rav (Ba'al Hatanya) (DOV BEAR OPPORTUNITY TO SCOFF). It took us five and a half years to complete because we would spend months at a time on each sugya (topic) going through many different sources (from the relevant Gemarah to the rishoonim, etc.) and shitas (approaches). Last week we began an examination of each of the taryag (613) mitzvos as enumerated by the RAMBAM in his classic sefer, Sefer Hamitzvos. This undertaking is likely not to end (in the forseeable future).

Starting my day with an hour of learning followed by davening (and having the discipline to get up at 5:20 a.m. no matter how tired I am) has been a life altering experience. No matter what else happens during my day, at least I know I put in an hour of learning. And, as a lawyer in the financial services business, studying Choshen Mispat has been particularly eye-opening (It should be required learning in all yeshivas, IMHO).

The chaburah is also not for the feint of heart. The Chaburah started with about 25 guys and ended with about 25 guys. But not the same 25. About 20 dropped out somewhere along the way. I am, BH, one of a handful that made it through to the siyyum.

Finally, I have the greatest respect and hakoras hatov for my Rebbe. Despite being inundated with all kinds of general shul narishkeit, despite handling countless phone calls till late in the night (morning!) from desperate people from all over the world, despite having to prepare many other shiurim and shmuezin, and despite getting a tiny amount of sleep, he is there every morning, teaching with insight, humor and patience. May we continue to learn together for the next 120.