For over 50 years Rabbi Brovender has taught thousands of students from all around the world. This week we introduce you to Mrs. Mali Brofsky. Mali has held numerous academic and administrative positions at educational institutions in Jerusalem, most recently at Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalyim, and is currently serving as a field advisor for Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work’s MSW program in Israel.
She holds a Masters in Jewish Philosophy from Bernard Revel Graduate School and an MSW from Wurzweiler, and runs a clinical practice in Gush Etzion. She lives in Alon Shvut with her husband and four children.
I met Rabbi Brovender during my shana ba’aretz at Midreshet Lindenbaum, and was privileged to keep learning from him and being influenced by his singular personality and leadership during my years in the Bruriah scholars program.
What do you find most important or striking about the “Brovender Method” – his unique way of teaching?
I think the most important lesson that stays with me is Rabbi Brovender’s integrity and honesty, which comes through both in his personality, and in his style and method of teaching Torah. Rabbi Brovender always cuts through to the heart of the matter – zoning in on what is crucial, so that you are left with a sense of clarity about not only the topic you were learning, but also the underlying moral messages and imperatives inherent in whatever topic he is teaching.
When it comes to Torah learning, what were you most drawn to after learning with Rabbi Brovender?
I don’t think I was left drawn to a specific field of Talmud Torah; on the contrary, I think that learning from Rabbi Brovender left me inspired about the richness of all Talmud Torah, from Gemara and Torah she-be’al Peh, to Tanach, to machshava, or any other field of Talmud Torah.
That is part of his message and his gift – it’s all Torah in his eyes, and everything that is Torah should be learned. This message was obvious to Rabbi Brovender, and was delivered with no frills, but rather lived and taught as self evident.
What lesson or specific Torah that you learned from Rabbi Brovender, do you keep coming back to or carry with you wherever you go?
One which is so obvious that I’m hardly even conscious of it any more, was his approach to women and Talmud Torah. It was clear to Rabbi Brovender that aside from questions about formal obligation in learning certain areas of Torah study, if that study was conducive to the formation of the religious personality and facilitated greater connection to God, it was obvious that that study should be actively encouraged and pursued.
This idea has become so integral to my perspective that I hardly think about it as a “lesson” anymore, but the truth is that the first person who articulated it to me was Rabbi Brovender, and I will never forget the moment and the shiur in which I heard it from him.
Another strong memory I have is Rabbi Brovender passionately defending the idea that we have to look to the Avot as heroes and role models – if we do not have this perspective, he argued, what exactly is the point of studying their lives?
This orientation toward searching for values and meaning in Torah study, and the perception that when we learn, we are mining our tradition for the timeless treasures of the principles inherent within it, has stayed with me as a fundamental truth.