Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Maurice Chandler - October 3, 1993

Cheder II

And in cheder you would study the prayers--Talmud as well?

Yes. We would study--prayers were just automatic. I mean, prayers you didn't study. You knew it by heart. You know, we'd--and at my age, I knew all the prayers by heart. I mean, very seldom did I look in my siddur because it was automatic, but when we studied, there's, you know, Torah and five books of Moses. Every week there was a different chapter, and then we studied Tenach and ??? and Talmud. We studied Talmud very early. At the age of seven, eight, we already learned--as a matter of fact uh, within a couple of years, you know, before the war broke out, I was heavily into Talmud, and so much so that we--I knew fifty pages by heart of Talmud--we learned a different Gemara every season--???, with the commentaries. Not just...

So you could say, Rabbi so and so said this about the--this passage and Rabbi so and so said that.

Right. Right. And then the commentaries by Rashi, you know, Rabbeinu Tam, and Maimonides. All this wasn't, you know, Talmud was taught, you know, the Talmud is the next, uh, after the Mishnah. The Mishnah starts with the biblical passages, and after the Mishnah came the Amora'im, which is the Talmudic part, and they were dissecting the Mishnah.

Which was dissecting the Torah?

Exactly. You're catching on, very good. And on each side, you know, if you look at a Talmud, on the right side is the Rashi. On the left side Rabbeinu Tam and underneath you got all the others Ramban and the Rambam, and the passages, so when we started a page, it was page that would take a whole day. It just--they dissected--it argued back and forth. So that by the time you were through with the season--at the end of the season, you would have what we call a ??? meaning, the test. You would prepare for it all summer, and the Rabbis would show up on the Shabbos day. After the meal, you would go, and you would sit down, and they would come--several Rabbis came from out of town to test the Talmud.

On Shabbos?

On Shabbos, yes. They'd say, "Tell me on page, uh, 47, what is Rabbi Tam saying about such and such and such." You never knew what questions they were going to ask. And you'd say, "Well, what does Rashi say to that. What does Rabbeinu Tam feel about it?" In fact important, you know. The debate was called in Hebrew, the pilpul.


You heard that?


And we would go into it, and back and forth, and we were prepared for it, because they would assign--in the cheder, they would assign groups. Two at a time, you know, like I had--I don't know if you knew Mr. Bernstein. He owned a bookstore.

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