For over 50 years Rabbi Brovender has taught thousands of students from all around the world. This week we introduce you to Meir Lewis. Meir is an investment banker, having held senior roles at Morgan Stanley, Citi, Deutsche Bank and Nomura and his wife Dassi is a 4th grade Jewish Studies teacher at SAR Academy in Riverdale. Meir studied at Yeshivat Hamivtar from 1994 – 1996 and Dassi at Midreshet Lindenbaum from 1995 – 1996. They and their five children live in New Rochelle, New York.
How did you meet Rabbi Brovender?
During my freshman year at Yeshiva University, I met Rabbi Brovender as part of my consideration of programs for a year learning in Israel. We met in an MTA office for 30 minutes and I was instantly hooked.
What do you find most important or striking about the “Brovender Method” -his unique way of teaching?
I remember my first meeting with Rabbi Brovender distinctly. I read a little bit of Gemara and Rashi that I had prepared. He stopped me in the middle and asked “Why?”
I said “because that’s what Rashi says” to which Rabbi Brovender responded, “Why did Rashi feel the need to say that?”
And so began my journey along the “Brovender Method,” which is to read the sources carefully, and try to understand a level deeper to determine the unasked questions. My time in Hamivtar continued to focus on core textual skills and careful reading of sources.
When it comes to Torah learning, what were you most drawn to after learning with Rabbi Brovender?
From what I experienced, Rabbi Brovender felt that above everything else, it was Gemara that kept students engaged through the depth of a discussion. I was incredibly influenced by this and Gemara became the core of my learning.
Today, aside from Daf Yomi which I teach once a week, my learning efforts include the Mir Yarchei Kallah and some more contemporary halachic applications in the Smicha B’chaver program (5th semester).
What lesson or specific Torah that you learned from Rabbi Brovender, do you keep coming back to or carry with you wherever you go?
“Just open a sefer, start reading, and try to understand.” That was advice given to me by Rabbi Brovender many years ago and it continues to work for me. My Chabura on shabbos with another Hamivtar alum, Moshe Malina, does exactly that. Even after 8 years together and 3 mesechtas our approach remains the same: we open up a sefer, primarily a gemara, and try to understand it.