Sharing a book with a learning-partner can be challenging. Sharing little more than time over the telephone, though, can prove even more difficult.

For various Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries across the globe who pair up for the sake of learning, however, the lack of person-to-person contact proves no barrier.

Many of these Torah phone-study partners came together at last week's International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries. When back at their Chabad Houses all over the world, they take advantage of cheap phone service and VOIP to learn as if they were sitting face-to-face like in yeshiva.

Since 2005, JNet (the Jewish Learning Network) has been pairing people up for over-the-phone Torah study.

One pair of study partners is Rabbis Raleigh Resnick and Mendy Zwiebel.

"We met at a Chasidic gathering in California on the anniversary of the Rebbe's passing," said Resnick, co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Pleasanton, Calif. "We discussed a difficult Chasidic discourse that the Rebbe said in 1952, and we decided what a great idea it would be if we could learn together over the phone from discourses from" the rest of that year.

Zwiebel, co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch in Chico, Calif., said that he looks forward to the opportunity to learn as an island of calm in a very hectic schedule.

"We forget about all the issues that we have on our hands in our Chabad House" when learning, said Zweibel.

Since first pairing up, Resnick and Zwiebel have treaded through many difficult and intricate discourses.

Said Zwiebel: Learning over the phone "gives us an opportunity to delve into Torah learning just for the sake of learning."

Fitting it All In

It may seem obvious that Lubavitch emissaries continue to learn Torah after leaving yeshiva. After all, their bookshelves are lined with holy books written in Hebrew and spanning the Talmud and its commentaries, Jewish law and Chasidic thought. But because of the many roles that they must fill – from teaching weekly classes to counseling community members to preparing PowerPoint presentations, just to name a few – Chabad rabbis look to one-on-one learning as a way to boost their Torah study time.

As a result, while spending some time on the phone with a colleague presents the perfect opportunity to schmooze and catch up on how things are going in their communities, emissaries who learn with each other take the time very seriously.

"It is not easy," said Rabbi Yossi Deren, co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Greenwich, Conn., who learns with a fellow emissary in Los Angeles. "We are now struggling on a difficult Tosafot," a section of commentary on the Talmud.

Deren said that he's studying from the copy of Talmud that he learned from while in yeshiva.

"It is all about effort and toiling on the text," he added. "When you toil for something, it is so much more rewarding."

The emissaries insist that their learning sessions are purely for personal growth, rather than for advancement in their role as emissaries. They spend other time in preparing for their weekly sermons and classes.

"I am not learning this for ideas," said Rabbi Dovid Taub, creator of the popular "Itche Kadoozy Show" on "But this is solely learning for the sake of learning."

Taub is currently learning a discourse of the second Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Dov Ber, also known as the Mitteler Rebbe, over his cell phone with an emissary in Milwaukee, Wis.

Resnick, who learns first thing in the morning, said that the routine helps keep things in focus.

"When you start the day off with the right perspective, you actually see the difference," he said.

Zwiebel, his study partner, agreed.

"It keeps you focused in a time when you're out in the world and busy with your everyday life," he explained. "This keeps you connected to your roots and it makes sure that you don't loose the right perspective on life."

And while they come from the same state, the two California rabbis echoed the comments of other emissaries in saying that they always look forward to the annual conference to formally sit down with one another.

"We know each other much better now," said Zwiebel, adding that they're planning on actually visiting each other's Chabad House in the near future.