For an enlarged, easier to read index click here . To "google search" this site, scroll to the bottom of this page. (This site is best viewed with "Firefox")

(Tips: F11 key enables full screen viewing & Ctrl-F to search the index)


TALMUD TORAH-----methodology

Q: Rav Moderator-If not every Jew is going to be able to learn the gemara so klor, with all the rishonim, acharonim, and so on, why should those Jews who cannot learn the gemara well, learn Gemara?

Why not just learn Shulchan Aruch, and when difficult shailos come up ask a Rav? If they can't derive the law from the Gemara, why is it necessary for them to learn it? I'm sure this question is an old one. Sorry for asking such a basic question. Thank you, Mod, for your time.

A: If you’re talking about baalei batim, you are right. The Halachah is, that Baalei Batim who only have a little learning time daily should learn Halachah, not Gemora, since it is more important for them. However, the Aruch Hashulchan adds, if we will tell this to the Baalei Batim, they will not learn anything because all they want to do is learn a Daf a day. Therefore, it is best to leave them alone, and hope that at least they will learn their Gemora.

If you are talking about Yeshiva Bochurim, that is a different story. The Yeshivas are in the business of teaching students how to learn and how to be Lamdonim. And even though invariably not all the students will be big Lamdonim, perhaps not even most in some cases, still, to create those great Torah scholars is the goal of the Yeshiva. And it is not as if the Torah the others learned was wasted c"v. They once asked Rav Meir Shapiro ZTL if Chazal tell us "1000 students enter the Yeshiva and only one becomes a rabbi", what is the purpose of the other 999 being in the Yeshiva? He answered, "only one will be a rabbi, but the other 999 will at least know what a rabbi is!".

An appreciation for learning in depth is valuable to all of us. Not to mention the fact that - and this is well know but very, very understated - you never know who the great Torah scholar will be. It won’t necessarily be the brightest. It is very foolish to write off a given student when he is young, saying that he cannot be a great scholar.

That having been said, there is definitely an element of "compromise" in the way Yeshivos learn. The Gedolim, in particular Rav Shach ZTL were adamant that the Yeshivos should learn faster, cover more ground, and not spend so much time on Achronim.

There is a famous letter of Rav Elchonon Wasserman ZTL describing the preferred curriculum in a Yeshiva. Basically it says Gemora, major Rishonim, find answers to the main questions, and go on. Rav Gifter ZTL would complain over and over, and over and over, about how Bochurim do not cover enough ground. In fact, there are those who would tell you that for a period of time, this was the main topic he would speak about. They should always finish the Mesechta they are learning, he would say.

There is also the complaint of other Gedolim that a Lamdan needs to know how to learn sugya aliba d'hilchasa - to derive the halachah l'maaseh from the Gemora, and Yeshivos do not teach much of that at all.

So why don’t the Yeshivos do all this? In a sefer called Orchos Chaim, shiruim and speeches given by Rabbi Chaim Segal ZTL, who was Menahel of the High School in Chaim Berlin, it describes how Rav Hutner ZTL was complaining to the principal of his own High School about how they do not cover enough ground.

Rabbi Segal answered that although the way they learn is not ideal, it is necessary, because the emphasis on Achronim and the give and take of the svoros that they spend so much time on is much more exciting than learning fast, and that is the method of learning that is needed to encourage the students to want to learn more and to remain learning long term. Rabbi Segal reported that Rav Hutner conceded the point.

So even in Yeshivos we are not learning in the ideal fashion, but we are doing the best we can under the circumstances.

1 comment:

amolam said...