On one level, one could not help but be impressed by the intensity and earnestness at Aish Hatorah, circa 1983, of young people devoting themselves to the mission of revitalizing their own spiritual lives and attempting to persuade others to do the same. A spirit of idealism and camaraderie pervaded the walls. Yet at the very same time, I found myself deeply troubled by the messages I was hearing, and the understanding of truth being purveyed was very different from the way I understood the term and continue to understand it.
In early 1982, I began to study something called "The 48 Ways of Wisdom" one night a week. This was a series of classes based on the last chapter of Pirkei Avot, Ethics of Our Fathers, at a home study group organized by a branch of Aish Hatorah in Toronto. I knew nothing of the organization and virtually nothing of Orthodox Judaism.