My first taste of Gemara was in the 5th grade at Manhattan Day School in Rabbi Gellers class, I don’t remember what we learnt, but from that moment forward I detested Gemara. The issue was plain and simple, I have horrible ADD and cannot sit and concentrate on the same thing over and over again. Then my dad would force me to learn Gemara with him between mincha and maariv on shabbos afternoons and that probably sealed the fate of my dissent towards anything Talmudic for the next 15 years or so.
I would just tell people that when it came to learning I wanted to know what to do, or what not to do, but I didn’t want to argue about abstract points for days on end. For most of my solo learning career it was mussar or halacha. I myself am a firm believer in the daily learning schedule, if you don’t learn you don’t grow – simple as that. But I always feel kind of cheesy with my English kitzur shulchan aruch, or English mesilas yeshurim – so rarely do I learn with anyone else.
This shavuos was different, I don’t know what happened, but I learned Gemara and loved it. Maybe it was the fact that my weird friend who seems to know all of shas forced me to read it and figure it out, or that when you learn Gemara it feels like you are really learning – but something clicked and I really liked it.
I was falling asleep after the meal, but figured I had to learn something so my buddy busted out some Bava Kamas and we went to work, it took me about an hour to figure out the first mishna, and then read it over and over again until I had it down pat. So interesting that I could finally learn Gemara and enjoy it, most people have told me that its the person you learn with that makes th difference – kind of like a professor – but I have learnt with countless people and I have never enjoyed Gemara at all before.