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13.4.16

Mir Yeshiva in New York

The Mir Yeshiva in New York was a unique kind of place in that every day was a new class that was along the lines of something you would see in the book from Reb Chaim Soloveitchik or Shimon Shkop. That is:- the classes consisted of expanding the approach of Reb Chaim to every single page of Gemara.

So this gives me an idea of how to explain simply what it means to learn Gemara on a small scale. To get the basic idea you really do not need to go through the whole four year program. If you just would have one tractate of Talmud and one essay from Reb Chaim Soloveitchik or Rav Shach and go though that one essay along with the Gemara it was written on, then you would already know what it means "to know how to learn."
You might not yourself at that point "know how to learn" but you would have understood the basic idea.

Now I do not claim this deep knowledge myself. In fact, in the two books I wrote on Bava Metzia and Shas I sometimes see the kinds of trivial concerns like are like Freshman Level. Like "Why did the Maharasha write such and such a thing."  That might be slightly interesting, but it is not called "knowing how to learn." Knowing how to learn is global.  It means knowing how to calculate the sugia [subject] in front of you--so you know thoroughly the Tosphot. And then the crucial step is to know how it connects with the rest of Shas.
There are not a lot of places on that level. Mainly they are in NY (Mir Chaim Berlin, Torah VeDaat) or they are offshoots of Ponovitch in Bnei Brak.

This gives you a general idea of how education should be pursued. You should look for the highest quality. For some reason God directly my steps to almost always have teachers of the highest quality--even when I was not looking for this. If it is worth doing it is worth doing right.

[Sometimes people jump towards the global thing and are missing the first step in knowing the sugia. So I think my two books are important because they tend to combine both things. I deal at first with knowing the sugia in its place and then see how it connects with the global concerns of the rest of Shas.



If you want an equal of a Litvak Yeshiva in your home, then you only need one Shas, plus the books of Reb Chaim Soloveitchik and Rav Shach and the basic Musar books. If you also want to more mystic side of Torah after you have finished Shas twice, then what I recommend is simply to plow through the writings of the Ari (Isaac Luria) straight from beginning to end-or at least the Eitz Chaim which gives you the basic idea. But I should mention I think the Eitz Chaim goes with the idea of direct mystical awareness at least as far as the Ari was concerned. That fits with Hegel but not Kant.