Friday, November 18, 2011

Rav Kook - Oros Hatorah - Why People (Internally or Externally) Go off the Derech

Rav Moshe Weinberger gave over the following piece in Oros Hatorah (9:6) as one of the most fundamental pieces of Torah which explains one of the major reasons why our children go off the derech and which ought to be distributed to every single yeshiva and seminary in the world. CLICK HERE to see the original. I can't do justice to the full import of this piece but here's my translation:
Some have gone off the derech of Yiddishkeit because in their learning and in their path to spiritual perfection, they betrayed their own personal, unique nature. Some are more fit for Agada, and halacha (modern pilpul/lomdus) is not in their nature as a *primary* way of learning. Because such people [have not been taught to] value and recognize their unique talents in Agada, they immerse themselves in Halacha as is customary [in yeshivos today].

But such a person feels an inner opposition to what he is learning because that which he is investing himself in is not in accordance with his essential nature. If, however, he would find the area where his talent and interests lie, and he would fulfill that by making that area of Torah which fits with the nature of his soul his primary area of learning, he would immediately recognize that the inner opposition he used to feel was not due to any deficiency in the holy and essential Halacha area of Torah learning.  
Rather, he would know that his soul simply required a different area of learning as his primary study. Such a person would remain faithful in a beautiful way to the holiness of Torah. He would become great and strong in the area of Torah which speaks to him. In addition, he will assist those whose primary learning is in Halacha to also taste the sweetness of Agada.

But when a person does not [or is not given the option to] recognize the true reason for his inner opposition to what he is learning, and he attempts to overpower his own nature [because he is taught that there is only *one* correct way to learn Torah], then the moment some options for a non-Torah way to live are opened up for him, he will break out and then hate and become any enemy of Torah and emunah. He will go from one sin to another, and we know what such people have wrought. They attempt to create that which they envision as the ideal way of the world and they attempt to blind "the eye of the world."

There is a great variety of areas of Torah learning which are fitting to the great variety of individual souls' natures. Some people are even drawn to specific areas of secular wisdom. Even such people should go according to their inner nature and they must set aside specific times for learning Torah. If they do this, they will succeed at both because "Torah together with the way of the world is beautiful." And the gemara at the end of Yuma discusses how to establish the right balance of primary and secondary for such people. In general, this whole subject is dependent on the character and nature of each individual person's soul. (Emphasis and explanatory parentheticals added.)
Rebbe went on this week to begin learning a couple of other things from Rav Kook and his Rebbe, the Netziv on this topic. He said that the ideas are so "common sense" that is remarkable that we have strayed so far institutionally from the correct path, which is based on a recognition that Hashem created different people differently for a reason.


Neil Harris said...


I believe the shiur is available for purchase here:'s_Personality_In_Learning_RKOH009020111104.html

I listened to it several times.

Anonymous said...

How can one know if his problem with a given area of study is not just laziness?

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

It's a good question and one each person should be cognizant of. Speaking personally, I would think one way is to ask oneself whether he wants to learn some other part of Torah specifically instead of primarily gemara, or does he want to learn nothing/less. If it's the latter, it's probably laziness.

On the other hand, one could be drawn to gemara but still be lazy, and might just want to learn something else because for him, it's eaiser. For this possibility, I might think a good test would be to ask oneself whether he would enjoy learning this more than anything else but for his desire not to work as hard intellectually.

If that's the case, then the eitza would probably be to learn about/work on/daven about his mida of atzlus.

Yishai said...

This reminds me of a recent article by Rav Shalom Arush. In it he says:

"So many Yeshiva kids and Kollel young men are bored and unproductive in their Torah because they lack aspirations. Create challenges for yourself! Pick a subject, like “joy” or “charity” and learn everything that the Gemara, Midrash, Zohar, and Shulchan Aruch say about it. Become an expert in your field of interest. Decide to write a book, too. Wait and see how these aspirations will fuel your learning, your praying, your hitbodedut, and your entire service of Hashem. You’ll be so much more energized and happy, and you’ll achieve so much more."

Neil Harris said...

DY- Good advice.