By Ilana M. Blumberg
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Extra info for Houses of Study: A Jewish Woman among Books
Milhamta shel Torah, hrwo lv aomjlm: war for the sake of the Torah. Kol mahloket she’hi l’shem shamayim, sofah l’hitkayem, ayhq okwljm lc 12 binah +yykohl hpws +ymv +ql: any disagreement for the sake of heaven is destined to stand. Learning was a war, a circumscribed war, a beautiful, passionate, and endless struggle with oneself, with others, for the purpose of getting at the truth. As if they were defending their cities, ﬁghting dragons with swords, I imagined these boys and men studying Torah.
We would run up or down the stairs and through our unlocked doors to get another cup of co√ee; distractions were welcome. ’’ Who could learn? With this up and down motion, this running from place to place? Though we ran from room to room, days went by without our leaving the building. In slippers, we shuΔed from our bedrooms to our kitchens to the kitchen that served as a library to the bedroom that served as a classroom. Wearing long skirts pulled over long underwear or sweatshirts pulled over pajamas, we arrived in class.
Then you have some time to yourself in the room you share with two others. And then the last round of the day: night study. You stay in one place, your place; you stay and you stay, as if you were guarding something. In the beginning the Beit Midrash is full, crowded even. Men sit in pairs; they lean back in their chairs as they have not done all day. The study is less rigorous, the air less electric. After a full day, minds are just now fully open, susceptible to impression. The feeling is of good fellowship.