I had just returned after a year of religious study in Israel, to America. As a young man of 20, I endeavored to find my place in the world. I was a child facing the burden and responsibility of real adulthood and choice upon my inexperienced shoulders. Where will I go? Who will I be? Which career should I pursue? Should I attend university? Perhaps go straight to work? Should I attempt to start a family? What role if any will religion play in my future life? These questions haunted my thoughts and paralyzed my decisions. How could I be expected to know at this tender young age, where I wanted to donate my time, energies, and passions? How could I be expected now to make life-altering decisions about career, religion, and family? From the present, trying to pierce into my future, there was only darkness and uncertainty. I was in the need of direction and guidance.
As if destined and determined from above, I was led to the answers I was seeking. I called a Rabbi that I was familiar with, Rabbi Abraham Salem, and inquired of him if he could use his connections to find me a learning partner so that I may continue exploring religious studies. The Rabbi responded that I should meet with him the following morning at a specific location. That morning the Rabbi studied with me personally from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM. Little did I know then, that this rigorous routine, which continues now – almost four years later, would be the source of such eternal blessings.
Rabbi Abraham Salem was a member of a wonderful organization called Dirshu. Dirshu is a Jewish educational organization that provides a framework and roadmap of sources related to Jewish law, and administers thorough examinations testing one’s proficiency in the intricate details and concepts of Jewish law.
For close to four years, every morning a new war would begin, as me and Rabbi Salem battled to decipher and apply the complicated source material of Dirshu’s guidebook; the handbook that gave us the direction to learn and study the great Jewish scholars’ legal decisions and opinions. Jewish law is a legal system based on a multilayered hierarchy of rulings. Each generation of commentators adding and amending their commentaries and legal rulings to the previous scholars’ works. The finished product, is a massive superstructure of endless layers and infinite depth. Every piece of information must be analyzed from every angle and deconstructed to its most basic elements to be synthesized and harmonized with thousands of pages of previous legal decisions. Dirshu’s handbook organizes all this information, summarizes it, and gives its members a guide of which sources to learn and what order to learn them in.
The direction and framework that Dirshu gave me enriched every aspect of my life. Dirshu’s gave me a love and passion for complex and structured learning. Dirshu gave me consistency and grounded me toward goals by requiring its members to be accountable and liable for the material learned. Day after day, month after month, we would learn the complex law toward the goal of being tested on our retainment and proficiency of what we learnt. Dirshu gave my life a purpose, mission, and focus and gave me the tools for success in life. While with Dirshu, I completed my bachelors in finance from Baruch College and got married. Dirshu as well gave me a love for law and I’m studying for my LSAT’s and have my eyes upon attending law school.
How can I express my infinite gratitude and appreciation with finite words? I am so fortunate to have participated in Dirshu and learn from the amazing people who created it. How many thousands of students have already been as fortunate as me. From my depths thank you. Sometimes we look back at period of our lives and say from then on everything was different; from then on everything has changed. When I started studying with Dirshu, my life turned a corner in a positive direction.
David Rosenblatt is a rabbinic student at Kollel Beis Torah and a finance student at Zicklin School of Business.