Matzav Shmooze: Where’s The Investigation Into Our Gemora Learning?

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Page of Talmud

Dear Matzav Shmooze, 

Everyone is talking about the new regulations in New York that want to enforce 7 hours of secular studies in our cheders. The new bill came after organizations pushed the State to investigate the yeshivos and found them inadequate when it came to secular studies.

But rabbossai I think the real issue that needs investigating is our children’s Jewish studies. You see, when people were complaining of the sykrocketting homework workloads given by rebbeim, I decided to take it upon myself to see what the results were. In the course of looking into that, I ended up trying to see where yeshiva bochurim in general were holding.

I did an unofficial survey of the many bochurim in my shul and other shuls in my neighborhood to get a general picture of where most boys in various yeshivos and age groups were holding.

The answers shocked me.

I found bais medrash bochurim in good yeshivos who struggled to make a leining on a Gemara, let alone learn up a Tosafos or other Rishonim. When I asked some of these young men the difference between Orach Chaim and Yoreh Deah I was met with too many blank faces.

There were many boys who were proficient and were able to answer my questions and then some. Some were actually really impressive. But there were enough participants in my ‘survey’ to tell me they were the exception and not the rule.

Forget math and basic grammar for a second. While those are somewhat important Yiddishkeit always comes first. But if we’re neglecting secular studies to focus on Gemara and other Jewish subjects shouldn’t our children at least be adequate in those?

Shocked

{Matzav.com}

35 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent letter and point. We have become so focused on accomplishments that we ignore fundamentals. Now every Yeshiva promotes their “Siyum”. While yes it is exciting if a Bochur can make a Siyum and finish a Mesechta but how many of these Mesayemim are where they should be (age appropriate) in their Gemora skills?

    It is the responsibility of the Yeshiva to slow down on how much they cover and tighten up on what they are teaching. Develop the young boys mind to understand how to get through the Shaklya Vtariah of an Amud. Teach them to read using the proper punctuation. Focus on what is bothering Rashi. Learn the Gemara as is, then relearn the Gemara according to Abaya, then relearn the Gemara according to Rava, then relearn the Gemara L’fi Rashi then relearn the Gemara Lfi Tosfos and then make sure the boy understands the differences and nuances. Don’t just teach the Gmara and then say Abaya holds like this, Rava holds like this and the Machlokes Rashi and Tosfos is this. Work on the Havana. Develop their thinking skills.

    If no 2 boys are the same and no class is the same then it is impossible for a Rebbi to be giving the same test with the same questions on the same subject year after year. Every Rebbi should be writing new tests and new sheets each year catering to the levels and needs of the Talmidim he has that year.

    Once we start tuning into the development and the accomplishment -quality over quantity – then we will see that change in your survey. We need to reestablish Horvanya, we need to make Gemara learning Geshmack and not tedious, we need our boys to see the beauty and excitement of “owning” a piece of Gemara. Better they learn less and know more then to learn more and know less.

  2. 100% I am in my 40’s When I was in elementary school in 8th grade i learned three perakim of gittin. 9 th grade was slower paced but there was extra credit to learn the entire mesachta Succah with the help of the rebbe.
    There was a chashivus hatoah and learning. (I didn’t learn anything about yoreh deah or orech chaim) there definitely needs to be push to learn more gemarah and to learn other inyonim, novi and mishen brurah, mussar…

    I am not saying the rebbeim were amazing and dedicated and all the kids learned and knew it but there was a certain level that we knew existed and what the top of the class knew… 6th grade chumash vayikra was finished…

  3. Sad but true.

    The focus on lomdus today is coming at too high a price.

    General yediyos in yehadus are lacking.

    I live in Lakewood and have met far too many “top” bachurim who are “lamdonim” but are unfortunately amaratzim gemurim.

  4. It has come to the point that instead of learning 12 hours a day Gemara, and 15 minutes of mussar, the YESHIVA’S should learn 15 minutes of Gemara and 12 hours of mussar.

  5. Lets go back is supposed to be the main derech in learning….. aliba dehichasa. Todays lumdos just lets the boys feel accomplished as they spin their wheels going in circles. & if anyone can change this problem it is a bunch of ppl on matzav.com.

  6. I don’t know where you people live but the reality is completely the opposite. Most high school maggidai shiur will tell you that the level of learning among today’s yeshiva bochurim is light years ahead of the previous generation. A 10th grade shiur today is easily on a higher level of a first year bais medrash shiur of 30 years ago.
    This is the absolute truth.

  7. Exactly.
    Every head of a mosod loves to brag how HIS talmidem are the best of the best mitzuyanim. “We don’t except losers who are struggling with making a leining. Let those bachurim go to an otd yeshiva where they will give him the time of day”. Auy, a good aideleh bachur who is struggling in his havana will be negatively affected if he is forced to attend a yeshiva where rov of the tzibbur are not yireah shomayim? No, that they couldn’t care less about! As long as their KAVOD is intact and they are able to get the “best” shidduchim for their children, the rest of the world can go to hell. There is a famous video of Rav Shtienman getting very upset when a so-called michanech asks him about their Yeshiva accepting “shvache” bachurim. He shouted at them that it’s all about Kavod. I wish the editors at Matzav can get a hold of that video and post it for us.
    If people, and especially gevirim, would stop bowing down to these Kavod zeechers who in their arrogance only accept “mitzuyanim” (look how they behave when they get to Israel), then maybe we stand a chance.

  8. We (those who have left it) have to go back to the old derech as stated in the Mishnah, endorsed by the Maharal, etc.

    First learn Torah Shebiksav, then Mishnah, then Gemara.

    The rushing of kids to gemara before they learned sufficient mishna causes many problems.

  9. I once heard this trenchant observation from רב ישראל מאיר קירזנר, רב דביהכ”נ בני יהודה בבארא פארק (IIRC he was repeating a piece of wisdom from the past, not that he originated it).

    There were always better bochurim and weaker bochurim.

    So what then is the difference between now and the past?

    In the past, everyone knew the gemara. However, a good bochur knew the meforshim too.

    Now, everyone knows the meforshim. A good bochur knows the gemara as well.

  10. As an Asken of the Shidduch Crisis, I dare to ask, What do the Bachurim accomplish in going to Erets Yisroel from age 21 to age 23 with their whole learning of Kodshim? Whats this Bachuring around till age 23 & causing so many Agunos? (If the Shlaimes Ho`Odom is learning Kodshim, so learn that in Kolel.) The whole system has to change.
    Lman Bnos Yisroel

    • Stop promulgating your stupid immature anti torah hoax. Every wedding hall in the tri-state area is booked solid. Every heimishe paper and website is full of engagements and weddings every day. This age-gap hoax is a way for a few sleazy loh yutzlachs to rip off some gevirim in the name of some organization that helps these supposed 19-20 year old girls who are still single, GASP! OMG, still single at 20. My life is over. I might as well end it. Stop with the lies!

      • Dear Libby, here’s a basic arithmetic lesson for you: 7 girls + 6 boys = 1 girl left over. With the 4 year age gap in a population that grows about 3.5% a year, there are approximately 15% more girls in the market, hence 15% of the girls cannot get married according to the stubborn math, no matter how much you scream “hoax”. Two ways to fix the problem: let boys marry at the age of 20, or allow polygamy.

      • It’s true that halls are booked, but there is still a shidduch crisis, and that’s a fact. Yes the age gap thing is bogus, but you can not deny the multitudes of older singles.

  11. The problem is the yeshivas are focusing on the metzuyonim. The yeshivas need to work with those individually at his level. I am not sure I understand this fad of learning in E Y. One can learn anywhere. In Israel they lera to become wealthy with independence and no responsibility.

    The bochurim also need to learn communication skills, both verbally and in writing. Bochurim have to learn middos so when they leave the protective walls of the Yeshiva, that they are representative of the Torah they are learning.

  12. Ask any and every Bais Yakov graduate, at any and every age, age 25, 30, 35, 40, and over, What percentage of her grade are still single, and the answer will be at least 10%. A man made tragedy by the Yeshivish people, for the Yeashivish people, to the Yeshivish people. Kick the habit of waiting till 23. Orthodox Yiden all over the world start Shidduchim by the time they are 21. Is it only the American dummies (as described in this article) that cant get married till 23?

  13. It is interesting how everyone thinks about his own agenda..

    There’s always another side and benefit, the simple reason why it has come to this matzav, the typical mind of a kid /bachur these days is so full of shtusim, the attention span is a record low.
    The traditional way of covering ground etc will only work for individuals, a bachur needs something that will involve and motivate his entire brain into learning and out of all the nonsense floating around.
    Hence, in comes “lomdos” that will hopefully capture his mind into learning Torah. Offering him mesechtos will only come at a later point.
    The mission now is introduce him to have a ta’am and enjoy learning. Being a talmud chachom is another step.

    • “The traditional way of covering ground etc will only work for individuals, a bachur needs something that will involve and motivate his entire brain into learning and out of all the nonsense floating around.”

      The two are not mutually exclusive.

    • Ifcha mistabra.
      Lomdus is lost on ruba d’ruba.
      Actually covering grous and seeing the breathtaking scope of Torah , and the feeling of accomplishment will keep bochurim motivated. I see this all the time bkiyis shout turns more boys on to learning than iyun.

  14. to Libby123
    You must be living in a bubble!
    Ask any Bais Yakov graduate from any age,(22-40) how many of their fellow classmates are still single. They will tell you that at least TEN PERCENT are still single.

    People like yourself are callous to the plight of so many girls and their parents, because of your need to express yourself.

    Shame on you

    Shame on the Agudah Convention for not even mentioning the Shidduch Crisis caused by the Age-Gap!
    As long as they can get government money for their students, they will keep them in their Yeshivos in the US till 21, and only then send them to EY to come back at 23 to start Shidduchim.

    Their money and Kovod are MORE important than get Bnos Yisroel married.

    The Convention is a country club feast with a good show and of course the Mezamrim and empty chest thumping.

    • Just because you’re a bitter old bachelor, that doesn’t mean you have to bash the Agudah. If you weren’t so picky when you were younger, you would of been married with a family by now. You reap what you sow.

  15. Response to your opening sentence “stupid, immature, anti torah hoax”
    Stupid, immature: Orthodox Yiden all over the world (Erets yisroel, Europe & Chasidim anywhere) are all in Shidduchim by age 21. Is it only the American Yeshivish that are “stupid and immature” till age 23? Or is it American Goyishkyte that allows them to wait till 23?
    Anti Torah:You are also an Am Ho`Orets that knows nothing about Halacha. See Even Ezer 1:3. Only someone that has all 3 of the following can delay after age 20. 1-)Strongly immersed in learning, 2-)He is afraid he will not have food, 3-)His Yaitzer is not Misgaber on him. Do u know any American Bachur that has “all 3 categories”?
    Daas Torah of Gedoilai Erets Yisroel Rav Elyoshiv, Rav Shteinman, Rav Aurbach Zichronim Livrocha, and YLCH’T Rav Chaim Kaniyevski Shlite, signed that they recognize the Age-Gap theory, & boys must start younger because of Lo Samod Al Dam Rayecho! See Shidduchcrisis.com Daas Torah letter #3. (The site was not put up for raising money.)

    • Not everything is a “crisis”. We don’t change our Mesora just because a few yichidim are suffering and in pain. We feel for them and daven for them but we don’t make changes. Otherwise it becomes a hefker velt. Ain lidavar sof. As far as the gedolim mentioned above (I have my serious doubts whether they really signed their name), not one of them ever scolded a bachor, WHY ARE YOU HERE IN ERETZ YISROEL???? CLOSE YOUR GEMORAH! GO BACK TO AMERICA AND GET MARRIED! Never ever has that happened. The askanim felt pressured to approach the Rabbanim so they nodded their heads. It’s all one big joke. Not ONE Rosh Yeshiva enforced it. Not one! BMG still has their freezer policy, so stop giving Bubbe maasos.
      Do you remember when they came out in the late 80’s or early 90’s with takanos called “Simcha Guidelines”? Lol. The very next day the supposed signatories were dancing at the extravagant weddings with the 20 piece band. All these alleged Kol Korei’s aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

  16. You must be living in a bubble!
    Ask any Bais Yakov graduate from any age,(22-40) how many of their fellow classmates are still single. They will tell you that at least TEN PERCENT are still single.
    People like yourself are callous to the plight of so many girls and their parents, because of your need to express yourself.
    Shame on you

  17. Rabbi Dovid Newman from the incredible V’harev Na organization has been pleading this for years. That’s where MY maaser money goes.

  18. Not sure where some of you send your children to yeshiva, but obviously not to the most popular yeshivas. Good yeshivas are bh producing amazing biys that know lumdus (how to learn) as well as bekius (covering ground). I am so proud of my children who usually finish the mesechte every year. They also learn lumdus, gemara in depth. The yeshivas do an amazing job balancing these two very important goals.

  19. The best proof & shanda that boys are having a problem making a laining & learning on their own. Is the great success that english artscroll seforim has. (Yes me included). True its used by balebatim that perhaps didn’t have a real good yeshiva background. But even in “yeshivasha” very often people need to grabam artscroll or other translation to make sense of the pshat.
    Lashon kodesh & Aramaic grammar & language needs to be better emphasized.

  20. I feel that chances are that most of our Yeshivos and Mosdos are run by choshuve people who know and understand bachurim much better than some cynical and “angry at the system” type of people commenting on matzav. Why don’t we leave it up to the professionals who actually know what theyre talking about and just try to find the right places for our children and daven that they should do the best possible.

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