For over 50 years Rabbi Brovender has taught thousands of students from all around the world. During his long career he had the privilege of working alongside many distinguished colleagues. This week we introduce you to Rabbi Menachem Schrader, who taught Gemara at Yeshivat Hamivtar from 1982 – 2008. He lives in Efrat, Israel and is Founding Director of JLIC, the Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus.
When did you first meet Rabbi Brovender?
I first met Rabbi Brovender when he visited Yeshiva University and he spoke with some of us who were studying in the Kollel in the 1970s, well over 40 years ago.
What was special about the environment in the yeshiva and working with Rabbi Brovender?
Working with Rabbi Brovender was the primary and longest working experience I have had, lasting for 25 years. I experienced his personality as highly complex, with nuanced and complicated perspectives on almost everything under the sun.
The Yeshivat Hamivtar environment was one of intellectual openness within the context of religious observance. Skills were taught in how to study Torah, including Bible and its traditional commentaries, Mishnah and Talmud and their traditional commentaries, Jewish Law, and Jewish philosophical works.
As far as the Jewish philosophy implicit and inherent in the Yeshiva, Rabbi Brovender felt the Torah studied would speak for itself.
We did not have an agenda as to “the correct hashkafah” the student was to take with him. Different students received from the yeshiva different ideas and even different commitments.
Students usually concluded that Judaism would be discovered from a proper effort towards understanding the Torah.
Is there a special insight you gained from your time together that you carry with you in life?
Rabbi Brovender’s tolerance of different people, personalities, ideas, and approaches undoubtedly affected me in my own approach towards others who I work and deal with. His openness makes possible a broad approach allowing the positive of all the above to co-exist in the four walls of the Beit Medrash.
The legitimacy of conflicting views has become a necessary component of my continuing efforts to strengthen Torah Judaism. He represented this more than anyone else I can think of.