For over 50 years Rabbi Brovender has taught thousands of students from all around the world. This week we introduce you to Rabbi Ian Pear. Almost 20 years ago Rabbi Pear founded Shir Hadash, an educational institute dedicated to bringing Jews closer to Judaism and one another, and promoting a love of Israel amongst all people. Shir Hadash has several locations including its main branch in Jerusalem’s Talbiya neighborhood and a Shabbat Satellite Minyan in Jerusalem’s German Colony.
Shir Hadash also operates an Early Childhood Center, an Educational Farm in the North of Israel, and most recently, Amudim, a Midrasha for overseas students visiting Israel for the year. Rabbi Pear has authored several books including the best seller The Accidental Zionist. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife, Rachel, and five children.
How did you meet Rabbi Brovender?
I knew of Rabbi Brovender first only by reputation. But it was a reputation that made me want more. I was in California at the time and asked around about where I could simultaneously really improve my learning skills as well as learn more about traditional Judaism in general, and every person I trusted said the same place and the same man’s name.
So the next year I came to Yeshivat Hamivtar for a year, entered the beginner level shiur, and worked as hard as I could so I could move up and eventually understand enough to be in Rabbi Brovender’s shiur.
What do you find most important or striking about the “Brovender Method” – his unique way of teaching?
He is not an ideologue, not interested in kiruv, and not a preacher. He was not interested in having students who thought he was great (though we did). Rather, he was solely focused on giving us the tools so we could access Jewish texts in the most authentic way possible, and those tools, in turn, enabled us to enrich our own lives on our own terms. He let Judaism speak for itself rather than serving as its publicist.
This required a lot more work on his student’s behalf — and his model encouraged the investment needed to succeed — but in the end it has proven far more rewarding and long-lasting than I could have ever expected.
When it comes to Torah learning, what were you most drawn to after learning with Rabbi Brovender
While I can never read another Rashi without asking a myriad of questions — why did he say this? Why didn’t he say that? What is Rashi really teaching us? — his teaching of Rambam most whet my appetite for further learning.
What lesson or specific Torah that you learned from Rabbi Brovender, do you keep coming back to or carry with you wherever you go?
The deepest Torah lesson I take with me from Rabbi Brovender is the importance of Torah study itself. Torah study requires constant vigilance, and if you allow the numerous distractions we are all confronted with get in the way, one will miss out on his learning. You won’t become a talmudic master — or for that matter, even a competent Jew — without staying focused and dedicated to your learning. Always learn. Always grow. Otherwise you’re going backwards.