A Bubby’s Call | Rabbi Dovid Abenson

“Hello, this is Mrs. Goldberg* and I’m calling about my grandson’s situation. Since he is currently out of Yeshiva, I learn with him each day but I’m hoping to get him back into Yeshiva. Can you assist us with this? I found your book at the Jewish Library, and after reading it, I was sure your learning programme would help my grandson. Do you have any resources available in audio-video format? Because he does know how to read English well”.

I explained that success and fulfillment in learning can only be achieved if a student’s underdeveloped skills are detected and rectified, and I directed her to my recent interview with radio host Zev Brenner and my learning benchmark checklist previously published in the Lakewood Scoop. ( Both can be found at the end of this article.)

In response, she replied

“I had the opportunity to listen to your interview with Zev Brenner, and it reminded me of two individuals very close to me who faced significant challenges due to their struggles with reading. One of them was my dear sister. She endured immense suffering because of her inability to read, which unfortunately had profound repercussions on her life. Despite her sincere efforts, she found herself in a marriage where her husband couldn’t understand why she couldn’t attend Shul to daven. This lack of comprehension led to escalating stress and depression for my sister, eventually resulting in severe mental illness and divorce. Her struggles persisted throughout her life, and she spent her final years in a nursing home, passing away at the age of 65.

My other sibling, my brother, faced similar difficulties with reading from a young age. At 16, I accompanied him to undergo testing to understand the root of his challenges. The results were disheartening — he couldn’t read English proficiently. As a result, he found himself navigating life in a more secular environment, marrying a woman from a similarly modern background. Over the years, he would often turn to me for help with paperwork and various tasks due to his ongoing educational struggles. Although he’s now happily married, the simple act of reciting Kiddush remains a challenge for him to this day.

These heartbreaking experiences, especially those of my brother, deeply affected our father, who was left utterly distraught when my brother, at the tender age of 13, refused to continue attending Yeshiva.

Upon reviewing your full-proof checklist, which we discussed earlier, I couldn’t help but recognize the myriad areas where my grandson could benefit from improvement. It’s clear that addressing his educational needs is paramount, and your insights have shed light on how we can better support him.

Thank you for your dedication to providing guidance and resources to families like mine. Your expertise and compassion offer hope for a brighter future, not just for my grandson, but for countless others navigating similar challenges. I have one more personal question I’ve been facing in my marriage for over 50 years. My husband has expressed reluctance to engage in Torah study, especially gemara citing a perceived lack of aptitude and clarity of mind. Together with this, he also struggles with communication which has hampered our shalom bayis.”

Upon reflecting on her husband’s situation, I suspected that his reluctance stemmed from language barriers. When I inquired about his mother tongue, she said he primarily spoke Hebrew, and Yiddish, and had a limited grasp of English, having been born in Israel.

Understanding that he lacked a definitive mother tongue and faced challenges in expressing himself, I explained that addressing his foundational language skills could significantly enhance his ability to engage with Torah texts and would definitely improve their communication as a couple.

Dear readers, I urge you not to give up if you know someone who is facing challenges in Torah studies. No matter what age they are, it’s never too late to make a difference. There is hope and help available to everyone

Keep striving, keep learning, and never lose hope.

Wishing you all a Kosheren Pesach and Chag Sameach!



  • Recognizing letters and vowels
  • Speed and accuracy
  • Interchanging nusachim; ashkenaz, chassidishe, sefardi etc


  • Building a good vocabulary bank of hebrew words



  • Understanding the content of the text


  • Breaking down words to the right components; prerequisite to translating and understanding the text
  • Deciphering shoroshim including the 7 types of hebrew verbs (7 binyomin)


  • Translation and havana, implementing Rashi into the posuk
  • Understanding and applying Meforshim


  • Methodology and translating/analyzing the Gemara by oneself
  • Defining Gemara terms
  • Rashi and Meforshim skills



  • Being able to communicate clearly and concisely what the text is saying


  • Determines the thought process of the student which will aid him in reading and learning the way his brain thinks. For example, if he is a visual or audio thinker.


  • Clarifying mother tongue prevents language mix-up which confuses understanding and expression.


  • Accommodation, convergence, eye tracking deficiencies even with 20/20 vision


  • Being able to draw out facts and cases and apply them to the context


  • Determining if a child has ADD/ADHD or other issues that may mimic this disorder

The above essential skills are crucial for the foundation of all Torah learning. Subsequently, without them, a student will continue to struggle and feel inadequate that he will never be able to learn.

The link to Zev Brunner https://thelakewoodscoop.com/news/video-zev-brenner-interviews-rabbi-dovid-abenson-in-response-to-chilling-article-on-tls/

AUDIO: Peretz Eichler Interviews Rabbi Dovid Abenson

* Name has been changed


“I Can’t Learn” is available for purchase at all Jewish bookstores or online at


For evaluations, speaking engagements or to sponsor my seforim, please contact my office at Tel. (514) 739-3629

Cell/Whatsapp (514) 993-5300

Email: [email protected]

Rabbi Abenson is the founder and director of ShaarHatalmud, a unique yeshivah-based online program, which incorporates learning all Kodesh subjects, from Kriah up to learning Gemara, Rishonim, and Shulchan Aruch. He also conducts evaluations, remediation, and training, and consults with school principals to improve students’ underdeveloped skills.

“Unlocking the Legacy: Insights from My Journey with my Rebbe, HaRav Mattisyahu Chaim Salomon זצ״ל ” – Soon to be published.

Pre-order a book or bulk orders HERE

Dedication & sponsorships opportunities HERE


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