By Leora (Moskowitz) Orenshein
A few days after Rav Kahn passed away, we reached the end of Masechet Nedarim in daf yomi. When I opened my Gemara a few months ago to start the masechet [tractate], I saw that I already had notes on the first daf [page]– circles and little underlines all over the page, with a few words penciled in, squeezed between the small lines of Tosafos and the Ran, the medieval commentaries on the text. I looked at the page and wondered, “what are all these markings?” I then realized that we had learned this daf in Nedarim during my first semester in Rav Kahn’s shiur. The innocuous circles and underlines were all the words that, at the time, I did not yet know. Rav Kahn said we should learn every single word on the daf that we didn’t know and so, under his guidance, I had circled and underlined at least half the words on the page. I look back now, coming to the end of Nedarim, and smile. I look at all the words that had been so daunting to learn then, but of course I know now. I look back and think, where would I be in my learning today if not for his shiur. Where would I be, without the rigor and demand, yet warmth and encouragement of Rav Kahn?
The very first Mishnah in Pirkei Avot tells us that a person should ‘stand up’ many students- ma’amid talmidim harbeh. It is often pointed out that the Mishnah doesn’t say, milamed, to ‘teach’ students, but rather ma’amid, to ‘stand’ up students. The greatest teachers do not just teach their students Torah, but they teach their students how to learn Torah on their own. They stand their students up two feet, so that they can learn independently. This is what Rav Kahn has done for his talmidot [students].
I have been overwhelmed reading reflections from so many of Rav Kahn’s talmidot telling how much they have gained from being his student, many solely attributing their ability to learn Gemara to him. Many of his talmidot who have taken those skills they have learned from him and become teachers themselves, now pillars of our communities in their own right. I feel so privileged to be part of the community of Rav Kahn’s talmidot. May we all continue to learn and teach Torah in his ways, and pass down the mesorah [tradition] to the next generation. Thank you Rav Kahn for all that you have taught us.