Wednesday, March 22, 2023

YESHIVA POLITICS: Should Yeshiva guys use Artscroll Gemaras?


The following question was presented on a VIN forum:

Artscroll Gemaras are an extremely valuable tool, which help thousands of people learn. The question is, can they sometimes be used as a crutch? Should Yeshiva and Kollel guys ever use an Artscroll Gemara?

DIN: This is one of the stupidest discussions I have ever heard.

Who cares how one learns? In Yiddish there is an expression "abee men lerent" "as long as one is learning?

We all say in the morning before reciting the Shama:

אבינו אב הרחמן המרחם רחם נא עלינו ותן בלבנו בינה להבין ולהשכיל לשמע ללמד וללמד לשמור ולעשות ולקיים את כל דברי תלמוד תורתך באהבה

The purpose of learning is לשמור ולעשות ולקיים is to put learning into practice! 

It doesn't say that you cannot use Artscroll. 

I'll bet that when Rashi first came out, there were Roshei Yeshivos that were pointing their middle fingers at those looking into a rashi laughing at them saying "oh look at that guy, he must be a big am-haaretz, he needs Rashi to help him!

The talmud was written in aramaic, because that was the language people were talking at that time. It was the "english" of that era!

I remember many years ago, when Artscroll was just beginning to publish the talmud and there were only a few out,  there was a meeting of school administrators, Roshei Yeshiva, and Rabbonim  about a certain issue, I cannot recall at the moment what the issue was all about, but what I found fascinating was something that I noticed about one particular rabbi. The Rabbi was R' Moshe Meir Weiss shlitah, who sat on the dais with other noted Roshei Yeshiva and Rabbonim all with their closed Hebrew seforim in their hands. R' Moshe Meir Weiss's sefer was an Artscroll gemarra and he was glancing inside, in-between speakers ! He was probably getting ready for his Daf Hayoimie class that he gives for decades. He was not embarrassed or intimidated at all.

I know baalei teshuva that never learned in a Yeshiva and who are huge talmeidei chachamim and who are proficient in the entire shas and poiskim, all from Artscroll!

There is another 'pirush" on the talmud  that has recently come out, but in Hebrew, called "Mesivta"! When you get a chance, take a look in the back. You will notice a section that explains every single tosfos, a section that reviews each and every daf, and there is a section that goes thru sugyois of that particular perek! I guarantee if you just learn those pirushim, you will be a bono-fide talmud chacham. 

I learn now in a kollel, some asked me if I can give a "chaburah" on the sugye that the kollel was learning. 

את חטאי אני מזכור היום

I cheated and just repeated one of the suguas from the back of the Mesivta. They were sitting there with their mouths open and couldn't believe that a "baal habyis" was as knowledgeable in this sugya as any guy that was learning in kollel for years and was throwing out references from the entire Yam ha'Talmud. When I admitted that it was all there in the back of the Mesivta gemarra they were floored. 

Some "taanid" that this isn't really learning and to attain knowledge you have to "hureva" and do the research yourself, and they brought a verse from Parshas Be'chukoisah where the torah states:

אם בחקתי תלכו

and rashi comments: שתהיו עמלים בתורה meaning to "labor in the Torah" 

I answered you left out the words of rashi right after that:

על מנת לשמור ולקיים "in order to observe and to fulfill that which you learn"

I told them that what I just did was far more productive and by doing what I'm doing I can cover far more in one year then they will in five. I added that I am prepared to be tested just like them and will fare far better than any of the guys. I quoted Rav Shach z'l who told a kollel guy that was on the same page in the gemarrah for over two days that he will be a "loimdeshe am'haaretz" 

My humble opinion is that now in this era where we can B'H access so much information in minutes, it is imperative to take advantage of that, and if it's by learning with an Artscroll or a Mesivta gemarrah then so be it. 

In the six months that I'm in kollel, not to brag, I have completed 2 and 1/2 difficult tractates in talmud with Rashi and Tosfos, completed Yehoshua Shoftim and will complete very soon Shmuel alef and bet plus sifrei musser, and a daily shiur in Mishnayois Kehati, Rambam and Mishna Berurah and was tested on all this, and if it wasn't for Artscroll and the Mesivta, I would not have been able to accomplish all that. 

I am advocating that Kollim start learning with.....yes... absolutely, Artscroll and or Mesivta!


Anonymous said...

rav shach ztzkl was against it

Garnel Ironheart said...

This started with the Steinsaltz Talmud. How can you learn it? He changed the Tzuras HaDaf! (That was invented only a couple of centuries earlier)
And the answer is: the point is to learn! Who cares about the format?

Anon said...

March 22, 2023 at 2:16 PM

Rav Gifter was 1000% for it and he asked Rav Shach to please not to mix into American Daas Torah.

old world yeshiva politics said...

that was one of the reasons why rav shach ztzl sent rav gifter ztzl back to america (along with the fact that rav gifter wanted to have a yeshiva with secular studies in the american charedi model) and rav gifter had to leave telz stone. (rav gifter also had a certain appreciation for a yiddishe medinah which didn't sit well with the israeli chareidi gestalt, which is sort of hinted to in his artscroll biography). talmidim say that this return to america contributed to rav gifter's decline where he was in a depression of sorts until his final illness and passing. (the chazon ish also prevented a yekkishe torah im derech eretz mosad from opening in eretz yisrael after the war, as he felt eretz yisrael should only be for torah). rav shach ztzl was the avi hayeshivos and defended the yeshivaworld against anything that was extra to torah, even if it wasn't necessarily against the torah or charedi society.

Anonymous said...

the reason why rav shach ztzkl was against it was two fold. 1. it took away an aspect of shtehiyu ameilim batorah (ameilus) which is a kiyum of torah lishma (see "bemichitzitzum" by reb shlomo lorincz z"l). 2. by translating the talmud, it could lead its misuse and misunderstanding by negative elemets. indeed rav shach ztzkl opposed the "oz vhedar" edtions of the talmud because they changed the girsas of numermous gemaras which were not the mesorah for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, as well as highlighting and emboldening the divrei hamascils of rashi, which directly effected the way sugyas are understood when learning. it is not a simple thing to change a tzuras hadaf or a girsa...klal yisrael has a very old, treasured, and cherished mesorah.

in terms of opposition to artscroll or the mesivta because it will be a "cheating sefer" the misnagdim to the rambam and the bais yosef also had those tainas, but lmaase we see that one still has to be a talmud chochum to correctly farshtei a rambam or a sif in shulchan aruch...

if someone wants to know how to learn and be a talmud chochom, they will still have to put in years and years of days and nights being amul and yaga in learning to correctly know how to learn, no matter what type of gemara they use. lasty the heter from rav elyashiv ztzkl for artscoll is printed in the beginning of meseches brachos ayin shum. one can see from the loshon of the heter that rav elyashiv ztzl wasnt into it, but allowed it bidieved.