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An appraisal of Rav Aharon Daum by a non-orthodox student


I have some friends living in the Jewish settlement of Susya in Israel. Since they know of my lively interest in all Jewish matters, they pointed me towards Rav Aharon Daum, who lives in Antwerp. Two times a year Rav Daum organises a symposium for everyone who is interested in every aspect of Jewish life. I already started attending these meetings some two years ago. During these meetings Rav Daum has spoken a lot about Jewish History, and more particularly about recent evolutions in Jewish thinking and the different approaches towards Judaism existing nowadays. And so the Reform/Liberal movement, the Conservative movement and Orthodox and Chassidic Judaism passed the revue. Since Rav Daum knows that I belong to a Liberal community in Brussels, I was particularly interested in his approach, especially knowing that he is an Orthodox Jew and Rabbi. I was very pleased that his approach was strictly scientific and historically correct.

I learned that Rav Daum is not only a good teacher, but also a good person preferring to make bridges to other people, rather than to blow them up. His expositions about Jewish History proved to be so valuable that they even appeared in an abridged form in the monthly magazine ‘Joods Actueel’. The solid contents of the articles and the very humane aspects of his personality stimulated me to take even a further step , and to ask him if I could have some more detailed lessons about the Jewish Holidays, and their halachic meanings.

Consequently I have been taking lessons about Jewish Holidays with Rav Daum for about four months now. Of course we are following closely the Jewish calendar. In this way the Rabbi has given profound information about Tu Bishevat, Shabbat Shekalim, Shabbat Zachor, Purim, Shabbat Parah, Pèsach and the counting of the Omer. Although I thought that I already had a detailed knowledge of these Jewish Holidays and Shabbatot, Rav Daum succeeds very well in showing me the biblical and halachic approach of these specific days. The references to Talmudic and Midrashic literature, I find particularly stimulating have and the Rabbi often quotes from these sources.

To conclude I want to express my appreciation of Rav Daum’s knowledge of Judaism, his skills to bring this knowledge to his students, and especially his humane and humoristic approach during these lessons.

Pieter Jehudah Van Cauwenberge
23 april 2012

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