1. When were you at Hadar?
I was a fellow for half the year 2014-2015 and I'm studying Talmud part time this summer (2016)
2. Where are you now (physically)?
I spend most of my time in Manhattan. I just moved to Washington Heights! As I’m writing this I’m on Columbia’s campus.
3. What are you up to now?
I am a PhD student in theoretical computer science and I just finished my first year. During this summer, I’m spending my mornings at Hadar studying Talmud (Perek HaChovel!) with Rav Aviva.
4. Is there a beautiful piece of Torah from your Hadar days that you keep close to your heart?
Our teacher Dena Weiss shared the following practice with us when I was at Hadar during the year program in the beginning of 2015. Often times when learning torah, and especially the Talmud, we encounter cases where someone does something wrong to someone else. Person A steals from Person B. It’s very natural to identify with Person B, the one in the right, who was wrongly hurt or damaged. But Dena told us to think of ourselves as Person A, the person who did something wrong. This is really brilliant on many levels but I’ll elaborate on one of them. It’s easy to get swept away in the world of ideals while we’re learning torah. We talk about questions of justice. In that moment, it’s easy to think of ourselves as better than Person A. That we could never steal or hurt anyone. We all know this isn’t true, but it’s easy to forget while studying torah. But it’s specifically at that moment that it’s important to remember our own imperfection and not to be on a high horse about our learning.
I’m very glad that this is relevant to me as we’re study the laws of interpersonal damages in the mornings at Hadar.
5. If you could describe your experience at Hadar in one word what would it be (feel free to elaborate beyond a single word)?
Supportive. A big part of the torah learning process is interacting with other people. Rav Jason likes to quote this midrash from breishis rabba: “Rabbi Chama Bar Chanina said: A knife will only become sharpened only at the side of another. So too, a Torah scholar can only become sharpened by a friend.” I felt and continue to feel supported by my peers and teachers at hadar in a way that I haven’t felt elsewhere.
6. Is there a time this past year when Hadar specifically came to mind?
The almuni conference! It’s a highlight of my year!