Best Thanksgiving Ever

Shalom aleichem!

Mazel tov to Dr. Yosef & Rivkah (nee Lieber) ’10 Wolf, on the birth of their firstborn daughter, Devorah Rochel! Mazel tov to the proud grandparents Captain Stewart Lieber and Mrs. Sylvia Lieber.

Happy birthday to Rivkah’s sister Gela!

Mazel tov to QC alumni Eliana & Josh Pollack ’08 on the birth of a daughter, Avigael Meira!

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I had the best Thanksgiving this year.

My son’s sixth grade class sent home a note earlier in the week, stating that since many fathers would not have to go to work on Thursday, we are invited to join the Talmud class from 10-11am.

I like the transparency of the yeshiva, Oholei Torah of Brooklyn. Wonder what’s going on in your son’s classroom? Come check it out!

And let me say this: I am impressed!

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to get to know quite a few of the boys in my son’s class; a really fantastic group of kids — or are they young men? 🙂

By Divine Providence, I was studying Torah with Queens College Professor Adam Kapelner the night before the aforementioned Talmud class. Over the last few weeks, Prof. Kapelner and I have been digging into the Laws of Torah Study by Maimonides. The text we studied that evening dealt with, among other things, some of the qualities that a teacher should have. The general theme that Maimonides writes is that the teacher needs to be entirely focused on the students and dedicated to explaining everything clearly.

This was definitely the case yesterday. It was apparent that Rabbi Dovber Blau is organized, focused, and cares deeply about his students. The passage we studied concerned returning a lost object, and what constitutes sufficiently returning the object (for example, does the owner need to know that you returned it? Can you just place it on the front lawn?)

A few notes:

1. Just like a frame enhances a beautiful picture, so too, a teacher needs to “frame” his lesson. This can take the form of an introduction to the material, pictures to help make the material more tangible, practical examples, or other things. Rabbi Blau gave a clear overview of the passage we would be learning together, before reading and explaining (in a mix of Yiddish and English).

2. Numerous times throughout the lesson, Rabbi Blau would ask the students, “What do you think?” While we were anyway about to read what the Talmud said about the topic, Rabbi Blau taught an implicit lesson of the importance of thinking for yourself.

3. Another highlight of the class was when Rabbi Blau asked a question and said, “Think about it for 20 seconds.” It fits with the statement in the Ethics of Our Fathers that a wise person, “does not hasten to answer,” thereby enabling the student to weigh the options. I really liked that.

L’chaim to the next generation, I am inspired!

Good Shabbos,