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Author:  Joe
E-mail:  not available
Date:  9/26/2003 11:45:00 AM
Subject:  In response to a response
Message:  Rabbi,

I find your teshuvot and website very eductaional. However, something bothered me in a recent response. In an answer to a question by Moshe (who was obviously upset) regarding Onions and sharp foods, the Rav answered back with a sharp tongue and somewhat cynical answer. It seems that the Rav knew who he was talking to. I see no other reason why he would lash out at him using the term Yeshivah guys. Do all Yeshivah students think and act the same. That was clearly a terrible generalization. In regards to the "big thumb topics", that seems to be an attempted dig at something I am not familiar with.

As you can see, this is something that clearly bothered me, especially in the final days before Rosh Hashanah. It seemed unprofessional and not necessary. Delete might have been a good option as the Rav suggested, or a soft tongue and answer.

Chag Sameach.
Reply:  I apologize for upsetting you, but I'll try to explain, although my time is limited, being that there are over a hundred unanswered questions.
The norm in the Yeshiva world is a specific way of studying that is against the way it is written in the Gemara and in all the major Seforim. This way of studying is to specifically study any of 8 or 10 Mesechtot (tractates) of Gemara that happen to have very little relevance to today's Jewish Law. They stay on a few pages for months on end without any movement, analyzing every word, and discussing each issue to death. There is no benefit to this way of studying, and it is a seriously dysfunctional environment. It has been an ongoing joke about the thumb, because during this type of learning the person will swing his hand with his thumb stretched upward whilst presenting his latest thought on the topic. Any intelligent person who realizes the problems with this type of studying needs to buck the system in order to survive. The overwhelming majority goes along with it. The ones that are on our side will certainly appreciate my comments, rather than be insulted by them.
This person posted a comment rather than a question. This is a Q & A Forum to find out the laws, not a debate forum. I don't have a problem with a person trying to understand a bit of the mechanics behind certain laws that might seem different than what they're used to. I do have a problem with this person's question. He writes his position and challenges me as to why & how I can disagree. If he spent even 10 minutes looking into it, he'll see that it is not as simple as it might seem. The GR"A very clearly disagrees with the Shulchan Aruch and quotes many sources. The onion sharpness was clearly different in those times. And many other issues. Being that these type of people are too busy analyzing irrelevant stuff, when they need to look into a relevant issue, they don't have the time to spend 5 minutes reading up on it. But they are comfortable getting that tidbit of information and acting like they know everything and challenging a Halachic decision by my father, one of the most seasoned Talmidey Chachamim in the world today. This is the training that is most often taught in Yeshivot, and/or learned from the teachers and Roshey Yeshivot by example. It is known as Azut (arrogance). I wish I can paint a Norman Rockwell style picture of the Yeshiva world to you, but that would be ridiculous. Unfortunately, some Rabbis of the previous generations were a bit too soft-tongued, thus allowing this disease to grow from bad to worse. If a person spends months studying one or two pages, he can certainly appreciate that there is more to the law than a short browse. Ask around a bit and find out what really goes on. This ridiculous way of studying is called by the SHLA"H (Shney Luchot Habrit) a major sin. The GR"A has a full page written on this type of person exactly. The Orchot Tzaddikim has a full chapter on this. and on & on & on....
It is the cause behind the deterioration of our entire society, because the Yeshivot are supposed to be the training ground for our future Rabbis. If they don't learn law, but rather spin circles in their heads analyzing analyzations, they can never master Jewish Laws pertaining to everyday life. The goal set for them is to become a Rosh Yeshiva. The bigger the thumb and the more distorted the thought, the better chance of becoming a Rosh Yeshiva. The few people, less than 5%, that just don't fit in, they can't put any intelligent thoughts on the table, these guys take up learning Halachah (Jewish Law). They find a topic that the others don't know & it boosts their confidence. They can't really learn it properly, but they browse the latest abridged versions of the Laws, and they come across sounding knowledgable to the majority who know even less than they do. That is unfortunately the status of our new up & coming Rabbis. The ones who couldn't make it in the Yeshiva environment.
Wake up & smell the coffee!
Imagine a person going to college on his first day in Biology 101. He sits down the first day & begins discussing the different pros & cons of a specific new technology on doing a heart transplant, based on his extensive high-school education. You would send that person to a home. You certainly won't let him become a doctor ever. That's the concept with their way of studying.
.....then they come to my turf and try to bring their arrogance and stupidity to the table, but I can smell a rat a mile away!
This will explain why someone can ask what others might think is a stupid question, and I'll treat them with full respect, because no question is stupid, yet another asks a seemingly educated question, and I'll jump down his throat. I've been around the block.
I wish you and everyone out there an excellent year & a year of redemption.

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