To Cherish and To Study

By: miri granik  |  April 2, 2024

By Miri Granik, Social Media Manager

As my final semester at Yeshiva University flies by, I find myself reflecting on the experiences that have shaped my time here. A lot has happened in the past three years. I became a leader on campus, explored NYC, figured out my career aspirations, and made lifelong friends. The opportunity that I am the most grateful for, however, is learning Gemara (Talmud) from three incredible Rebbeim.

Learning Gemara at Stern was not a given, even coming in with an advanced Talmud background from Yeshiva University High School for Girls (Central) and Midreshet Lindenbaum. The advanced shiur seemed daunting to me and was difficult to fit into my schedule four mornings a week. When I found out that there was an intermediate shiur, I eagerly joined and it was a perfect fit. I had the absolute privilege of learning under Rabbi Moshe Kahn zt”l (of blessed memory) for a few months until he stopped teaching in November 2022 due to his declining health. I will always cherish the time I learned with him because he challenged me and empowered me to hold myself to the highest standard. He created a uniquely warm learning environment for a Zoom shiur, even with his uncompromising demand for precision. I miss him greatly and carry his Torah with me every day. I had the opportunity to learn from Rabbi Joseph Schwarz for a couple of months when he took over Rabbi Kahn’s shiur. Rabbi Schwarz is a kind hearted teacher who cares deeply about his students’ learning. Overall, my experience with Talmud at Stern during my Junior year was very meaningful.

Going into my final year at YU, I knew that learning Gemara was something I wanted to prioritize and I built my schedule around Rabbi Shlomo Zuckier’s afternoon advanced Talmud course. I even dropped my art minor so that I would have enough time to dedicate to preparing for shiur. This was especially important to me following the possible cancellation of several of the Talmud courses last year due to low enrollment. The courses were thankfully reinstated, and I realized that if we value these courses, making them a priority by registering for them is essential. Each student can make a difference.

Making Gemara a centerpiece of my senior year has made it extremely meaningful and rewarding. Rabbi Zuckier’s shiur is highly interactive and analytical. He simultaneously challenges us to understand every word and think deeply about the sugyot (Talmudic passages) while fostering a fun and encouraging learning environment. I have spent a lot of time learning with my classmates, who have not only taught me so much but have also become close friends. Yeshiva University is the only institution in the US that teaches Talmud at the undergraduate level, and it is an honor to take advantage of this unique opportunity.

The integration of Torah and secular studies at YU is the biggest privilege we have as students. One of the core values of Yeshiva University is Torat Emet, seeking truth both in Torah and secular studies. The University’s statement of values underscores the centrality of talmud Torah in our lives: “The Jewish people in particular affirm that beginning with the Revelation of the Torah at Mount Sinai, God entrusted eternal teachings and values to us that we must cherish and study diligently above all else, for they represent the terms of the special covenant that God made with us.”

I urge my fellow students to not only study Torah, but to cherish it as well by taking advantage of all the opportunities available to us. Take the Judaic courses that will interest you and challenge you. Make meaningful connections with your Rebbeim and teachers. Spend your free time in the Beit Midrash (study hall) and prioritize your learning. Build friendships around Torah and set up chavrutas (learning partners) both in and out of class. I encourage each student to do this in her own way. For me, finding the right Gemara shiur and learning b’chavruta was an invaluable part of my YU experience that I will always cherish.

Photo Credit: Yeshiva University