Wednesday, December 18, 2013

S1 E11 - Sjimon Den Hollander

This Shabbos on Good Shabbos Nebraska - America's favorite Shabbos morning talk show - we have the great privilege of hosting special guest Sjimon Den Hollander!

According Jewish tradition, Moshe's father in law Yitro researched, studied, and experienced all of the religions of the world before he embraced Judaism.  If a person wants to get an insight into what made Yitro special, they should meet Sjimon Den Hollander.

Sjimon was born a Dutch Calvinist in the Netherlands, but at a young age his desire to learn sent him from the faith of his family on a journey of a lifetime that spanned across the globe.

(Some of his bio can be found here, but he will give a detailed account of his amazing life story after Kiddush on Shabbos.)

I had the great privilege of meeting Sjimon when we were both students of the great Hacham Eliyahu ben Haim at Yeshiva university.  Sjimon was my hevrusa (study partner) and together we prepared the texts that Hacham lectured on.  It was an incredible privilege to learn with Sjimon, as Sjimon's life experiences gave him insights, understanding, and practical knowledge on such a wide variety of subjects. 

When we studied anything relating to agriculture or livestock Sjimon drew from his childhood upbringing on a farm.

When we studied anything relating to human anatomy Sjimon drew from his training and experience as a nurse.

When we studied texts Sjimon drew from his proficiency in so many languages, modern and ancient. 

For every mitzvah or ritual he told us about parallel practices in other cultures.

He regularly drew from his knowledge of general world history and philosophy. 

And despite his vast knowledge base, Sjimon is the consummate wise man described by Ben Zoma who can "learn from every man."  I have never met someone who so embodied such genuine humility.  He views every person that he encounters as a potential teacher.  He is a master of the art of listening, and he views every conversation as an opportunity to learn from the other person. 

I am so privileged to know Sjimon.  Since I have known him he has been like an older brother to me. Sjimon has taught me so much about life and connecting with other people.  He has always been there for me for my celebrations, and he was there for me during some of the hardest times in my life. 
I am so happy that my community has an opportunity to meet this extraordinary person and that he will honor us by being a guest on Good Shabbos Nebraska. 

You will not want to miss this unforgettable episode of Good Shabbos Nebraska - this and every Shabbos 10 am ONLY at Beth Israel Synagogue, where every Shabbos is a shabbaton!