The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Friday, March 26, 2004

Shloof Yomi

I heard a cute story from my Rebbe this morning. We were discussing the "Artscroll Phenomenon" and how Artscroll and other English sources have revolutionized the learning of Torah in America.

More on that in a minute, but first the story.

Many years ago my Rebbe gave a daf yomi shiur every morning. One guy came promptly every single day and, like clockwork, as soon as the Rebbe said one pasuk, plopped his head into the gemarah and fell into a deep sleep. There he stayed until the end of each shiur when the rest of the chaburah members were closing their gemarahs.

Whenever this guy's wife would see the Rebbe she would invariably thank him and say how much her husband enjoyed the shiur.

I'm sure he did.

Now, back to the topic. My Rebbe said that it is a tremendous bracha that tens of thousands of Jews are learning today who would not otherwise be able to. On the other hand, he said, in a way the Artscroll Phenomenon has made learning too easy. People don't have to struggle like they once did to understand a word or a sentence or a sugya because they can look things up in English rather than work them out.

I can really relate to that. I am a product of the MO yeshiva system of the 60's and 70's and came out knowing virtually nothing. When I started to learn a little when I turned 40, I would have been completely lost without Artscroll. So, I have tremendous hakoras hatov to them and all other perveyors of good English seforim.

But, my Rebbe is right that there is no satisfaction that compares with working something out yourself, struggling with a Kedushas Levi or a Mishna or a ma'amar. My learning is much more gratifying now that I am able, with hard work and the help of a dictionary, to get through a number of Hebrew seforim.


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