Rav Chaim Kanievsky’s trademark encyclopedic works, Derech Chochma and found the following introduction: “My goal was to compile the various commentaries on the words of the Rambam … I made extensive use of the index of Rabbi Shabsi Frankel. I did not own all of the works cited, so I depended on citations in the index.” Rav Chaim Kanievsky wrote a sefer based on an index. Indeed, throughout the sefer he constantly quotes the index as the basis of his anthology. " />
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Monday, September 01, 2008

Is It OK To Cheat?

Last week I experienced a brief moment of intense disappointment. I bought the latest of Rav Chaim Kanievsky’s trademark encyclopedic works, Derech Chochma and found the following introduction: “My goal was to compile the various commentaries on the words of the Rambam … I made extensive use of the index of Rabbi Shabsi Frankel. I did not own all of the works cited, so I depended on citations in the index.” Rav Chaim Kanievsky wrote a sefer based on an index. Indeed, throughout the sefer he constantly quotes the index as the basis of his anthology.

Every year we are treated to countless study aids to save us from actually having to know something. Whereas twenty years ago a Rabbi (or lawyer for that matter) needed to have a very broad knowledge base, a researcher today only needs to know which index, anthology or software program to use.

Of course, to really know and comprehend the material you need to work hard. We are taught not to depend on crutches or training wheels in our learning. We put our noses to the grindstone because true knowledge comes only from hard work.

Ask anyone in the know to list the top ten Torah scholars in this generation and they are guaranteed to mention Rav Chaim Kanievsky. Rav Chaim has devoted his life to attaining real knowledge. He studies and reviews every major and minor work in our literature on a regular basis. Rav Chaim Kanievsky wrote encyclopedic works on many topics from the Laws of Grasshoppers and Agriculture to Gematria and Medrash. He is considered to be knowledgeable in the entire Torah.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky has always been my role model for doing things the right way. He does not take shortcuts; he just studies and studies and studies. When he finishes one book he begins the next, and when he finishes everything he starts again. He has been at it for over fifty years.

So, what happened to Rav Chaim Kanievsky?! Students around the world mock the index of Rav Shabsi Frankel as a crutch and a substitution for “real” learning, but Rav Chaim is teaching us that the role of a new study aid is not to let us learn less; it is to help us learn more.

In Vizhnitz (Monsey) there is a group of fifteen men with long white beards who study Daf Yomi together. They are learned men and have probably reviewed Shas three or four times in that Daf Yomi Shiur alone. I joined them last week and found that, without exception, they were all using “cheating gemaras”. Older Men who were able to quote obscure sources and argue about them intelligently chose to use the latest in study aids to make their learning experience even better.

We cannot get lazy, but we also cannot ignore opportunities to get better.

I still try not to use the “cheating Gemara” but when other guys in Daf Yomi insist on interjecting with “note 92 in the Artscroll” I welcome it as a perk, not a nuisance.

Posted on 09/01 at 06:23 AM • Permalink
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Meet Rabbi Sender Haber

Rabbi Sender Haber is the Rabbi of the B'nai Israel Congregation in Norfolk, VA. He is well known throughout Hampton Roads, having arrived over twelve years ago as one of the original four members of the Norfolk Area Community Kollel. In that capacity, Rabbi Haber was involved in community wide programming, teaching, and outreach. He has inspired many Jews to expand their Jewish identity and increase their love of Torah and commitment to its observance. Everyone who knows Rabbi Haber is touched by his breadth of Torah knowledge and his ability to convey the wisdom of the ages in such a way as to make those esoteric writings accessible to persons of all levels of experience and a variety of backgrounds.

Rabbi Haber has served in a number of capacities during his years in Norfolk. Since 2003 Rabbi Haber has been a teacher of Jewish Studies at Toras Chaim Day School in Portsmouth, teaching boys and girls of all ages, with a focus on Gemara, Halacha, and Chumash. He has also taught at Yeshivas Aish Kodesh and Bina High School in Norfolk, and served as Assistant Rabbi of B’nai Israel for 6 years. He also serves as the Rabbi of the “Lost Tribe,” Tidewater’s Jewish Motorcycle group! While handling all of these responsibilities, he has continued to participate in numerous Chavrusos (one-on-one learning partnerships) covering a wide range of topics and writings.

Rabbi Haber and his wife Chamie have been married for thirteen years. They have four children, Minna (9), Moshe (6), Ely (4), and Akiva Meir, born in August of 2012. They both come from rabbinic families steeped in Torah, Kiruv and Chesed. Rabbi Haber received his Rabbinic Ordination (Yoreh Yoreh) from Rabbi Sender Rosenbloom and Rabbi Mordechai Freidlander of the Jerusalem Beth Din. He was awarded a Teaching Certificate by Torah Umesorah Association for Jewish Day Schools in 2004 and again in 2009. In addition, Rabbi Haber has spent over a decade studying Talmud, Jewish Law, and ethics in some of the world’s most prestigious Yeshivos including Beth Medrash Gavoha in Lakewood, NJ and Yeshivas Mir in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Haber can be contacted through the Synagogue office at 757-627-7358, or through e-mail at senderhaber@gmail.com