Beni Romm ’21 Achieves Top 4 in Dr. Shimshon Isseroff Chidon HaTanach USA
May 15, 2020
Frisch junior Beni Romm ’21 achieved top 4 standing in the Dr. Shimshon Isseroff Chidon HaTanach U.S.A. competition on May 10, 2020! He qualifies for the finals, which will take place in August. A love of Tanakh clearly runs in the family; Beni’s younger brother Ilan came in third in the middle school division.
Beni says his favorite thing about studying Tanakh is “trying to understand the historical contexts and perspectives of the authors of various sefarim, and seeing how this influenced their understanding of Avodat Hashem.”
Unlike traditional Chumash or Nach study, which often concentrates on extensive plumbing of smaller chunks of text, along with all the relevant commentators, the Chidon HaTanach focuses on breadth, without the commentary. This focus encourages a different, yet incredibly valuable kind of learning, according to Beni. “The Bekiut (breadth-oriented) style of Tanakh study promoted by the Chidon enriches the study of Tanakh as a whole because many books in Tanakh interpret, argue with, and influence other books in the canon,” he explained. “The complements and contrasts can only be appreciated if both texts are known to the reader. For example, this year’s chomer included the Book of Ezra and the latter chapters of Isaiah. Ezra calls his allies in his religious reform Haredim, “Tremblers.” This rare epithet only appears in one other place in Tanakh. The post-exilic Isaiah 66 also speaks of a group called Haredim, who are spurned and hated by their brethren for their steadfast observance. If the prophet and Ezra speak of the same individuals, we can better understand the courage and sacrifice of Ezra’s followers. Nevertheless, part of studying Tanakh is understanding that it can sometimes be hard to prove whether connections are genuine or spurious.”
How did the current situation, including the switch to a remote format impact his experience of the Chidon? “Well, having a computer certainly made it easier to win Kahoots in the after-test carnival!” he quipped. “Speaking of which, Rabbi Nadel did a great job making sure that the Chidon this year was not just a test but a fun ‘celebration of Tanakh,’ in his words. Nevertheless, as something of a “chidon-regular” at this point, I missed seeing certain friends in person.”