Thursday, December 30, 2004

Enjoying Learning

In line with my previous post, one of the things that everyone knows is one of the worst problems of that society (yet one that so few are willing to really do something about) is the problem of how there are loads of kids in yeshivas who are being forced to spend the vast majority of their day in front of a gemara, even though it's a total waste of time.

Yet, how often do you ever hear any of these individuals openly say, "I don't want to learn gemara." or "I don't like learning gemara."? Instead, when asked why they aren't doing well, they'll usually reply with, "I'm too tired.", "I'm out of the sugya.", "It's not working out with my chavrusa.", "I can't follow the rebbe.", "I'm distracted by whatever." No one is ever honest about how they really feel about it. And lest you think (did I actually just use the word lest? Yikes!) that they are just too embarrassed to openly express it, the fact is that most of these people don't even admit this to themselves. After all, learning is supposed to be the most exalted and wonderful activity a Jew could ever aspire to. What self-respecting frum kid would admit to not loving learning? Or at the very least, to not wanting to love learning?

Actually, when I was in high school this did happen to me. A kid had his head down in shiur and despite the rebbe's insistent prodding, wouldn't start paying attention. Finally, the exasperated rebbe asked, "Chaim, what's the matter? Why aren't you getting up?" The kid bravely (or stupidly? It is a fine line sometimes.) replied: "Why should I? I'm not the least bit interested in this." Of course the class was stunned and the rebbe didn't know what to say. I myself almost blew a fuse. Who ever expresses such heresy? How could he say such a thing? I mean, it's bad enough that he feels this way, but to admit it in front of everyone?! I eventually recovered from this traumatic episode and Chaim was unsurprisingly kicked out, but that experience was the first and last time that I ever heard anyone openly express the idea that it's possible for someone to not like learning. I have yet to hear it repeated. Even when I openly ask a kid if he likes it or not, giving him the opportunity to confess his sin to an understanding soul, he will vehemently deny such a thought ever entered his head. God forbid to say such a thing!

"The Seal of God is Truth" - Yuma 69B


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Frummer????? said...

Oh thats great, and I'll bet that Chaim really shteiged after being thrown out.

elf said...

"Lest" is a very handy word. I don't know why it's fallen into disuse.