Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bookjed on Gray Matter 2

R. Shalom Berger reviews Gray Matter volume 2 by R. Chaim Jachter (link):

...Every teacher who walks into the classroom should be well-prepared to present the assigned material for class. A good teacher also carries with him or her a valise full of "complementary educational materials" - vignettes of life experience, personal stories, anecdotes - that make the content of the class come alive and take on context and meaning. In this, the students at the Torah Academy of Bergen County are fortunate to have Chaim Jachter as their teacher. Aside from his position in the school, Rabbi Jachter serves as a Rabbinical judge on a New Jersey Bet Din, and his knowledge and expertise come to the fore not only in his books, but also in his classes. It is no accident that in the acknowledgements at the beginning of Gray Matter, particular thanks are offered to his students - many of them by name.

A perusal of his most recent volume of Gray Matter showcases his talents as a posek and teacher. The book covers a range of contemporary halakhic issues, from a presentation of the challenges presented by the World Trade Center deaths to an analysis of electrical devices and fulfillment of mitzvot like Chanuka candles. While some of the subjects that are dealt with are of greater interest to the community Rabbi than the classroom teacher - the lengthy chapter on mikva'ot is an example - the methodology should be of great interest to every pedagogue. Strewn throughout every presentation are personal accounts of experiences that illustrate the halakhic process...
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