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“A person who sits and learns all day,” Tatty continued easily, “really is a heilege mentch.” He raised his eyebrows in the expansiveness of recognized truth. “What greater holiness can there be than to sit and be oseik baTorah all day?” My father nodded with a reflective, almost self-effacing smile. “Really, that is a holy man.”

There are some moments in life when everything seems to stand still except for your brain, because everything inside it has just been turned upside down, and you need to re-order your universe. Sometimes it is something you think, and sometimes it is something you read, and sometimes it is something said from someone wise and you know,somehow, without thinking very much, that it is simply true.


It was a new thing, this trickling down to solidity; strange in its unique newness, and yet unquestionably, unmistakably, true. Tatty’s voice, and the words he said – there was nothing more to question, only to ponder and understand.

Every man in yeshiva is different, I guess, and I cannot judge one by all, or all by one. But now, when I have the privilege of meeting a ben Torah, I watch, and I observe, and sometimes I see many things. I may learn that he does, indeed, sit and learn all day. I may see his friendly personality, and his respect for others, and his kindness, and his honesty, and his modesty.

And when I do, I stop and marvel, and all I can think is, this is a holy man.


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