Getting My Learning Back on Track

When I was originally becoming observant I used to learn a few hours a day. I spent 6 months in Eretz Yisroel in Yeshiva, but even when I came back I was still learning at least 2 hours a day. Five years later, I have a pretty good knowledge in halacha and I’m down to about 30-45 minutes a day of learning.

Is this normal? Should I be learning more? If so, any suggestions on how to increase my learning?

– Ahron

13 comments on “Getting My Learning Back on Track

  1. “A pretty good knowledge of halacha.” Including Yoreh Deah, Choshen Miahpat and Even Hoezer? And at what depth? Just Mishna Berurah? What about going back over what you have already learnt with the Tur and commentaries, then Shulchan Aruch and commentaries, perhaps then going back to the sugyos in Shas from which the halachos derive.

  2. Rav Shimon Schwadron surpirside someone when he said he became a gadol in a minute. When pressed to explain he added – “a minute here, a minute there” our days are usually continuums of wasted time – getting to work 5 minutes early, being on hold on the phone for 7-10 minutes, waiting 5-10 minutes on line at the bank, bakery, deli etc. Hours of otherwise wasted time can be recaptured and small seforim slip into the pocket or MP3 players can hold hours of shiurim.
    Here’s another thoughht if you are indeed that comfortable with halacha (and I’m not after nearly 45 years) try giving a shiur somewhere to those who know less than you do – you’ll be surprised at how prepearing for it will force you to dig deep and anticipate questions etc.

    but get thee a good chavrusa man!

    hatzlacha raba

  3. I had a very similar decline in my amount of learning about 10 years after yeshiva, too. For a while I tried Daf Yomi which was an improvement, but I did not get onto a decent track until I hooked back up with a chavrusa and made the time and commitment. B”H I experienced a great improvement in all aspects of the undertaking. Finding the right chavrusa is a huge challenge, though. I was very fortunate.

  4. Ahron-Here is a suggestion that works for me and as well for others. Think about finding a shiur that you can handle and attend on a regular basis. OTOH, find a chavrusa and learn Talmud, Halacha or Chumash on a regular basis or try Daf Yomi, but making sure that you can review the critical points of each sugya over Shabbos with Rishonim inside the text. I find the Ritva invaluable for enhancing one’s understanding of the pshat and the Encyclopedia Talmudis equally important in providing an in depth exploration of any sugya within its extensive coverage. Even in what you think is a limited time as compared to learning in a yeshiva, you will learn a lot and cover ground.

  5. I meant to say, also, that I attend a Kollel Boker @ Chofetz Chaim on 147th St. in KGH, in addition to evening programming there and Sunday AM and Shabbos afternoons, as well. This is courtesy of TBT,


  6. I’ll just throw in something for thought. The Rambam, following on Hazal, calls both learning Torah and Tefilah by the name ‘Avodah’. What’s more, there is an old tradition (Rav Harlop quotes it, but I don’t recall the originator. The Ari, maybe?) that the state of one’s learning determines the quality of one’s worship of Hashem.

    Absolutely, quality is the issue more than quantity; but we deceive ourselves if we think that quantity (relative to what’s really possible) isn’t also some part of the ‘quality’ we seek.

    If you’d like some material for thought, read Rav Aharon Lichtenstein’s article Make Your Torah Permanent: The Centrality of Torah Study. You can find it on the Virtual Beit Midrash or in his book By His Light.

    Ultimately, this is why the mishna says one needs a haver. Share this with someone who understands the issues, and can help you honestly plumb the depths of your own heart.

    Just this morning (I slept in after being up past midnight) my wife, on her way out to work, said ‘you don’t have the day off; there’s Torah stuff to attend to!’ :-) We all need someone who can help us assess that.

    So, aseh licha haver…

  7. Thanks for your input so far. To answer some of your questions: I am presently working full time. I don’t know if I’m growing or plateauing, it really depends upon the day. As to Tzvi’s question about learning, I would define it as any in-text learning.

  8. As long as you are learning every day, be it a few minutes, a few hours, that is what counts.

    I try to keep to a sked of a Daily Dose of Torah, Tehillim of the day, Rashi’s take on the Parsha of the Week, a chapter of something from Tanach, and a lesson a day from Rabbi Twerski. This can take me about 25 minutes a day.


  9. Ahron-what else are you doing? Are you in college, professional school, working, etc?

  10. Ahron, there are a lot of facts someone would have to know to even begin to answer that question! But here’s a general kind of inquiry: How is everything else “holding” in terms of your frumkeit? Do you feel that you are otherwise “growing”?

  11. When Rav Yisroel Salanter started the Mussar movement it was very contoversial. A former talmid who looked askance at mussar, and had gone on to a succesful business career asked/ribbed him:

    “Rebbe. I have only 30 minutes a day to learn, what should I learn? A blatt gemora or a mussar sefer?”

    RYS replied: “learn Mussar. You’ll then discover that you have more than 30 minutes a day to learn”

    Don’t know if it is applicable to your situation but you DID request increase suggestions.

  12. I think it is, perhaps, unrealistic to maintain the same learning schedule that you did in yeshiva. It is likely that you have other important things taking up your time. Determining whether the amount of time you are learning now is enough requires an honest look at what else you are doing with your time and asking yourself whether additional learning will push you beyond your current tolerance. Placing yourself in a yeshiva type environment by learning in a yeshiva or shul often stimulates the desire for better and/or more learning.

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