Bais Yaakov Taught Me to Do Research

Bais Yaakov provided me with a wonderful foundation for higher learning.

Yes, you read that right.

See, it started in seventh grade navi class.

We were learning about Dovid HaMelech, who had trouble keeping warm later in life. He had disrespected clothing, that time that he stuck it to Shaul by cutting off a piece of his cloak and going “nyah nyah, look how close I got to you, I could have killed you but I didn’t, who’s the bad guy now.” So clothing refused to keep him warm, and an old man has got to keep warm.

The posuk says:

1 And king David was old, he came into his old age, and they covered him with clothes, but he was not warmed. א וְהַמֶּלֶךְ דָּוִד זָקֵן בָּא בַּיָּמִים וַיְכַסֻּהוּ בַּבְּגָדִים וְלֹא יִחַם לוֹ:
2 And his servants said to him, “Let them seek for my lord the king a young girl, a virgin, and she shall stand before the king, and she shall be to him a warmer, and she shall lie in your lap, and it shall be warm for my lord the king.” בוַיֹּאמְרוּ לוֹ עֲבָדָיו יְבַקְשׁוּ לַאדֹנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ נַעֲרָה בְתוּלָה וְעָמְדָה לִפְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ וּתְהִי לוֹ סֹכֶנֶת וְשָׁכְבָה בְחֵיקֶךָ וְחַם לַאדֹנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ:
3 And they sought a beautiful young girl throughout the borders of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunemitess and brought her to the king. גוַיְבַקְשׁוּ נַעֲרָה יָפָה בְּכֹל גְּבוּל יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיִּמְצְאוּ אֶת אֲבִישַׁג הַשּׁוּנַמִּית וַיָּבִאוּ אֹתָהּ לַמֶּלֶךְ:
4 And the young girl was very beautiful, and she was a warmer to the king, and she ministered to him, but the king did not know her. דוְהַנַּעֲרָה יָפָה עַד מְאֹד וַתְּהִי לַמֶּלֶךְ סֹכֶנֶת וַתְּשָׁרְתֵהוּ וְהַמֶּלֶךְ לֹא יְדָעָהּ:

My teacher was a lovely girl, straight out of seminary, doing her year of teaching while waiting for her bashert. In seminary they teach you all sorts of wisdom about teaching.

But she must have slept through the day when they discussed how to hide from your students that the Torah actually talks about sex quite openly, even if it was just to clarify that it didn’t happen.

At least we know that she is emesdig and has a hard time lying.

Because when we got to these psukim and she was translating for us, she stuttered and stammered and said, “They found a young girl to keep him warm. We don’t really know what that means.”

I was too young to look in Metsudas Dovid and Metsudas Tzion on my own then, but this struck me as somewhat puzzling. With all those thousands of years of study, had no one attempted an explanation about how a young girl could keep an old king warm?

When I got home from school that day, I expressed my confusion about this to my mother.

“Of course we know what that means!” she said. She didn’t tell me what it means, though.

After that, I knew that whenever a teacher said something that struck me as “off,” I would do well to find out some more on my own. I developed many methods of finding out information, which of course stood me in good stead when I started college.

And I have to say I’m grateful to my naïve and inexperienced and clueless Bais Yaakov teachers for that.

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