For over 50 years Rabbi Brovender has taught thousands of students from all around the world. This week we introduce you to Chaplain (Captain) David Ruderman of the U.S. Armed Forces.
When did you first meet Rabbi Brovender?
I know Rabbi Brovender from my days as a rabbinical student at Yeshivat HaMivtar, 2003-2006. I’m a Chaplain in the U.S. Army and have been stationed in Fort Benning, Georgia, Wiesbaden, Germany, West Point Military Academy in New York, and Fort Carson, Colorado. Currently I live in Denver with my wife Ariella, a speech pathologist, and our children.
What do you find most important or striking about the “Brovender Method” –his unique way of teaching?
When I think back and remember him speaking and learning with us I recall that he was always honest about what he was teaching, willing to let a source say something new or even uncomfortable. That made me want to trust Torah too.
When it comes to Torah learning, what were you most drawn to after learning with Rabbi Brovender?
Ramban on Chumash. Also the Pesach Haggadah. I’ve retold some of his Divrei Torah on the Haggadah for my children as well as at military Seders in Germany, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and as rabbi of West Point.
One in particular: Noting that “I shall bring you to the land-” is omitted from the Haggadah. (Shemot 6:6-8), Rabbi Brovender once mused that the other languages of redemption had been fully and successfully internalized into the collective Jewish soul by the Exodus experience and that we cannot survive without them. Coming to the land, however, remains a work in progress.
I have felt that this idea has allowed Jews of all walks of life to feel connected to Jewish destiny, and brought hope and encouragement to many a Seder table in far flung corners of the diaspora.
He always said that the purest form of Talmud Torah was chiddush, to arrive at one’s own new Torah idea or insight.
This is an incredibly encouraging mandate! Little old me is allowed to, even ought to, have my own chiddushim? I can’t say that I achieve that very often but on those rare occasions, Torah study is especially exciting and meaningful. Thank you Rabbi Brovender!