Reflections from Members of the Chabura
Gabi Weinberg and Ari Friedman were two talmidim in Rabbi Glickman’s Yoreh De’ah Chabura in 5775. Below they share their experience:
By Gabi Weinberg (RIETS ‘17, Revel ‘16, YC ‘14)
To me, Rabbi Ozer Glickman was a seeker and a connector. Being out of Yeshiva University for a bit now, my connection to Yeshiva was in a large part due to his digital presence. His interest in existential Jewish communal questions, to some might appear as hock, but were truly essential questions to him and they made me think and question my preconceived notions.
I remember when my Yoreh De’ah chavruta, Ari Friedman, introduced us. We were following a different Yoreh De’ah chabura, but wanted some extra insight and methodological approaches, and Ari knew exactly who to go to: R. Glickman. Whenever Ari would describe him, I couldn’t wrap my head around this man who seemed to be full of contradictions. A banker, a scholar, a talmid hakham, a music aficionado, a sports fan, and many other things.
At the levaya, Rabbi Blau described R’ Glickman’s office: it was a table at Nagel Bagel. That “office” was where we learned. On top of the metallic table he’d have his things. He always had his over-the-shoulder bag, a tablet or two (with an Android OS), a bottle of coke, and more often than not, a sabra pretzel-hummus container. Ari and I would show up for our chabura with someone who simultaneously appeared to be “just like us” but was actually very different.
I wasn’t a chassid of Rabbi Glickman, and there are many of them that inhabit Yeshiva and the wider world. Regardless, whenever I would send R. Glickman a Facebook message, following up on an idea he posted about or searching for guidance for a shiur I was preparing, he would respond faster than nearly any of my friends. My interests in startups and Jewish thought were something he could understand, and the care with which he guided me to new sources made me feel like I was his number one priority.
Professionally, I had the privilege of having two of Rabbi Glickman’s teenaged relatives in my program. His excitement about their intellectual pursuits was palpable and his care for their emotional and spiritual well-being was clear. He knew they were plenty smart, and he wanted to make sure they got the nourishment they needed.
As an educator, nothing was too ethereal or mundane for him. He was always proud of his oversubscribed business-ethics courses in Syms, and in his chabura we always felt his concern for our growth, both spiritual and intellectual.
They say when you hear the same thing from multiple maspidim you know that it’s true, so if you hear anything which you also heard from other sources, it should serve as a validation for the esteem in which we all held Rabbi Glickman. There were not different personalities in the chabura, on Facebook, or in a Rosh Yeshiva Meeting (we think). He embodied the principle of tokho ke-boro. I am so lucky to have sat at his feet, learned his Torah, and with the help of his many talmidim I hope to perpetuate his legacy.
By Ari Friedman (YC ‘14)
Rabbi Glickman was special to many people in many ways. Above all was his family, to whom he was a father, husband, grandfather, uncle, and more. To some he was an analyst, a Chazzan, a law professor, a bandmate, a Bais Din advocate, the Vice President of Risk Management services, or a senior consultant.
To me, he was my Rebbe.
When I first met Rabbi Glickman I was an anonymous face in the crowd at a Friday night tisch in YU and only spoke with him briefly afterwards. As with many of his Talmidim, not initially knowing them never stopped Rabbi Glickman from generously taking time from his already overbooked schedule to meet with them. When I reached out to Rabbi Glickman, even though it was the week of Rosh Ha-Shana, he still invited me, an unknown student, to his home for a conversation which lasted hours. I was fortunate that my relationship with him continued in a way that may be familiar to his other students: chats in Chop Chop, midtown meetings for coffee, email exchanges, and talks in his “office” in the back of Nagel’s.
Asking Rabbi Glickman to give his Yoreh De’ah chabura, even though it wasn’t a listed course for the semester, was a lesson in his approach to being a Rebbe. That was how I learned about one of his requirements to give a chabura: the chabura needed to be small enough that he could make eye contact with each individual in the room. Rabbi Glickman needed to be able to know his talmidim as individuals, not just give a lecture to a room full of impersonal students (although he seemed to enjoy meeting at Simchas his online followers from Lakewood whom he never met in person). The final bechina for the shiur, which I sadly never got to experience, was another expression of his generous spirit and love for his talmidim. After all the written bechinas were submitted, there was the final oral bechina, administered at a restaurant where he took the student out for dinner (and, as he always did, footed the bill).
The suddenness of Rabbi Glickman’s passing surprised us all. When I saw a picture of the sign hung on the door to Glueck, Rabbi Glickman’s last reply to me was still in my inbox. That email captured much of who Rabbi Glickman was to me as a Rebbe, and I think to others as well. It was a response to an email I wrote to him while in a hospital clinic on Purim afternoon, far away from any Seuda or Simchas Purim. On days when the work environment seemed to clash with the rhythm of Jewish life, Rabbi Glickman was a unique Rosh Yeshiva to turn to. He had invaluable advice on the challenge of being a dedicated Jew on those days because he spent his life bridging the two worlds so that there didn’t have to be a divide.
This is an excerpt from that final email:
“Lo yamush sefer ha-tora ha-ze mi-pikha ve-hageta bo yomam va-laila leman tishmor la’asot ke-khol ha-katuv bo ki az tatsliah et derakhekho ve-az taskil.” Note that this was not directed to Moshe Rabbeinu or R’ Yehuda ha-Nasi but to Yehoshua who would excel not only as a spiritual leader but as a military and political one as well. Although some have interpreted this verse as an exhortation to constant Torah learning….I prefer the Gra Ha-Kadosh in the Shenot Eliyahu [that] we fulfill this exhortation the entire day when we not only open and close it with keri’at shema but keep the demands of Torah in our conscious minds. This idea is very precious to me. It reminds me that my entire life is potentially a Torah experience and that the greatest opportunities for Torah im Derech Eretz are when I don’t do them sequentially but when they coalesce in the course of my day.