Leibowitz z"tl (1902-1997)
master Torah teacher more than 60 years, died on Shabbat,
5 Nisan, Jerusalem.
Unassuming and unpretentious
(she answered her phone with a s i m p I e
"Nechama"), she was awarded the Israel Prize in
1957 for her "gilyonot" (pamphlets) which
revolutionized Torah study.
Her lectures and workshops were no less alluring and amazing. Utilizing an array of didactic tactics, including dividing chapters into their component parts and comparing versions of the same event as related in different books in Tanach, Nechama prompted her students to appreciate the difficulties inherent in understanding the Torah and to anticipate the resolutions which various commentators would provide. If Torah students today automatically ask themselves, "Mah kasheh leRashi" (What difficulty does Rashi address?), it is probably due to Nechama's prolonged and profound influence.
To see Nechama in action was to watch a master at work. She would gauge the intellectual mettle of her audience, assign them appropriate textual and analytical tasks, and promenade around the room as they worked - offering words of encouragement and approbation as she measured each one's progress. A "nachon me'od' (very good) from Nechama was a veritable accolade, and veteran educators strove for them no less than neophytes.
On a visit to Nechama some years ago, I introduced her to my then-three-year-old son, Shalom. While plying him with chocolates, she said: "When you are older, you will come to learn Torah with me." As long as Nechama's "gilyonot" and "Studies" remain accessible; as long as her myriad students follow her pedagogical advice; Shalom will still have that opportunity.
Dr Moshe Sokolow has translated
many of Professor Leibowitz pedagogic essays into