A Life of Learning in the Throes of the Holocaust By David Weiss Halivni (160 Pages)Publisher: FS&G, 1996
The words of the Talmud were the universe for David Weiss Halivni during his childhood in the Carpathian Mountains. At five he began his studies; by the time he was ten he had outgrown the town's teachers and started to learn at home with his scholarly, impoverished grandfather. Even before his ordination at the age of fifteen, in 1943, he was famous for his erudition. But when the Nazis crushed the Jewish community of the Carpathians in 1944, he closed his Talmud. Halvini taught in the concentration camps and risked his life to save a scrap of paper from a sacred book. But adherence to the fundamentalist world view that insists on reconciling every apparent contradiction in the text -- troubling him even as a child -- had become impossible for him now. When he arrived in New York after the war, he began struggling toward the "window" of secular learning. Painful, beautiful, and passionate, this memoir asks: What can the Holocaust mean for persons who have devoted their lives to the love of G-d? At the same time it is a unique look into the world of Talmudic learning, millennia old and still vibrant.