SPOTTED: Stranger at Chabad’s 770 Sits at Upside-Down Gemara; Police Were Called

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  1. This is not so unusual.
    I met someone from Yemen, who told me that when he was in yeshiva growing up, they were so poor, that they only had one gemara for every 4 boys.
    Each boy stood at one of the sides of the gemara: left, right, up, down.
    When they grew up, they *continued* to learn from a gemara from the same side they were used to, even though they had a gemara of their own. I met an upside-down person, i.e. he read the gamara upside down.
    There’s a famous story of someone coming to collect tzedaka from a gvir. When he arrived, he was asked to wait in the study. While waiting, he took a gemara and started learning. When the gvir came back, he saw this person learning with the gemara upside down, and was suspicious. Then the person explain that he grew up in Yemen, and was one of those that stood at the top of the gemara.

    When I told this story to a friend of mine, he said he once met a right-side Yemenite, i.e. he read the gemara from the right side.

  2. Maybe he heard someone say “punct farkert!”, and he thought that meant he should turn his sefer in the opposite direction. Happens to me all the time.

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