Rediscovery Trip to Lithuania

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A Four-Hour Shiur

From Mir we took the road to Baranowitz. That was the opposite direction of what the bochurim used to take. Yeshivas Ohel Torah of Baranowitz was meant for younger boys, who would spend their years from 13 to 18 there and then go on to learn elsewhere -- perhaps in Mir.

They are old men now, but they remember: R' Elchonon Hy'd used to give two shiurim every day: one from 9 to 11 in the morning, and a second one immediately afterwards, from 11 to 1 P.M. Four hours straight! Both shiurim were on the same maseches, too, only the first one was for the higher classes and the second one was simpler, for the beginners. (The kibbutz only heard one shiur a week.) In Baranowitz they didn't learn just one or two perokim of the maseches: they learned it from start to finish, taking two zemanim to do it thoroughly.

R' Elchonon stuck to the daf in his shiur, always dealing with the pshat. It wasn't out of necessity, that much was sure. R' Leib Baron remembers what the mashgiach, R' Yisroel Lubchansky, told him over the Shabbos table (R' Leib made his Shabbos by the mashgiach for several months.) R' Elchonon, told the mashgiach, was renowned for his pilpul; people called him "the Boisker illui." Then one day he told some of his chiddushim to one of the gedolei hador, who immediately rebuked him: "This is not the way! You must learn pshat." From that day on R' Elchonon put away his pilpulim and stuck to learning the pshat.

R' Leib used to write down the Rosh Yeshiva's shiur every day. His transcriptions were so accurate that when R' Elchonon decided to publish his Kovetz He'aros he sent his son R' Naftoli Hy'd to Mir (where R' Leib was learning by this time) to ask for his notes to serve as the basis for the proposed book.

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