Only now can the truth be told!
I know every rabbi claims to have been a talmid of the Rav, but I really was. I studded under the Rav for three years when he was still teaching in Yiddish.
The Rav never felt secure in English. He was a broken man by the time he started teaching in English so those other rabbis, the Steven Weils of the world, who claim to be talmidim of the Rav, well, they’re pretenders.
I’m the real deal.
The Rav always loved me best. Every time he saw me, he got a twinkle in his eye and he asked me, "Who are you fighting with now?"
By contrast, the Rav never liked these other rabbis. I remember once one asked him a question about Aristotle, and the Rav drew himself up to his full height and said, "Come back to me when you’ve learned to read Aristotle in the original."
Whew! What a put down!
I loved the Rav because he made you feel like you were part of the elect. That you were modern and Orthodox. The way he did it was so neat. He completely ignored all the challenges to Orthodox Judaism posed by modernity, but instead immersed us in the Brisker Method of studying Talmud, which felt very modern but really was just a fancy intellectual exercise that absented one from real life and the real challenges posed by Biblical criticism, archeology, etc.
God, we felt so smug! I loved it.
The Rav told us that everyone else was only kissing Torah through a veil, but we were doing it not only smack on the lips, we were actually French-kissing the Torah thanks to the technique of his grandfather Chaim. Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young and Brisking was very heaven!
The only way I can make it with my woman — when forced to by the Torah on Friday nights — is to imagine I’m locked in a musty YU Beit Midrash with just the Rav and 68 folio volumes of Gemara exploring the mouth of God.
I’ll never forget my final conversation with the Rav. He was on his death bed and he turned to me and said, "I can die happy knowing that you’ll be around to carry on the work."
I know a recent book came out quoting private conversations of the Rav. Supposedly JB said this about me: “He was neither a pupil nor a friend. I think I appealed to something good in him at some point, and I hope I did. But I don’t know.“
An authorized biography of the Rav claims he ejected me from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary for “deceit and deception."
And yet another rabbi claims: “He was one of the Torah weirdos. You get all sorts of people showing up in shul and we bust them. ‘I’m happy you’re looking for a place to daven. But this isn’t one of them.‘ And you throw them out."
I won’t dignify these put-downs with a response.
Suffice to say, the Rav and I knew what we had between us. And his work continues on this here website.
Thank you and God bless America!