A person who cannot learn seforim

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    A man who grew up frum and went through the standard yeshiva system, yet nevertheless cannot learn even basic Tanach and seforim on his own due to a deficiency in understanding Loshon Kodesh,

    a) what is he considered,
    b) what is his status and
    c) what should he do?


    Me in a nutshell… I do understand a little… But it’s not worth the trouble

    English seforim are everywhere nowadays, so I do not believe it is entirely necessary

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    a) a full fledged Yid
    b) a full fledged Yid
    c) I suppose try to correct that deficiency… At the same time, aguywithdetermination is correct, and even while trying to become proficient in Lashon Hakodesh, he can still learn.


    aguywithdetermination: Can you share what cause you attribute to your skill level having been deficient in this, considering your having gone through the Yeshiva system?

    And what Loshon Kodesh Seforim do you most miss being unable to study, and which English seforim do you most focus your studies on?

    DY: I know that he wouldn’t be considered an “am ha’aretz”, but on a sociological level in the Chareidi community would such a fellow be seen as on a lower communal status?

    Another point: How would such a parent assist his children with their yeshiva studies or homework?


    Well, I’m not entirely sure… I guess it’s that I was never actually taught the language, and everyone around me just picked it up somehow…

    Well, I find it harder to sit with a gemara since I have to decipher “Artscrollese” as well as aramaic…

    Mostly Halacha seforim, I guess


    As well as some interesting articles on Chabad.org


    I also wonder how common it is for young men who grew up frum and went through the standard Yeshiva system to have this type of Torah learning deficiency.

    I would venture to guess it is a minority, as most yeshiva products can learn. But is it a small minority or a larger minority?


    Is this thread a back hand swipe at yeshivos?


    apushtayid – Absolutely not. The yeshivos are doing the best possible for Klal Yisroel.


    I would recommend buying a sefer such as kitzur shulchan aruch with a Hebrew-English dictionary. Try going through a few halachos using the dictionary. Another sefer which may help you pick up basic Hebrew necessary to learn is Shaalos Rav ,questions of asked to Rav Chaim Kaniefsky. Each question is very short and is easy enough to pick up key words that are used in all seforim. You are correct that many seforim are translated but there are many amazing seforim which arent translated which are amazing. So it is worth the effort to try picking up basic Hebrew.


    Sam, DY, – How easy/difficult do you think it is for a person described in the OP to be able to self-learn the language?


    Slonimer this is very much me. I listen to or go to shiurim I find interesting and basic. I used to listen to shiurim that were so complicated I never walked away with anything. Now I only listen to simple digestible shiurim, usually on tikkun hamiddos. It is not a good feeling doing homework with my gemara learning son but with an English translation I get by and BH he’s getting good report cards.
    “What should he do?” well if you really earnestly want to learn from seforim (in original) the only answer is not to get discouraged that it isn’t going at the rate and speed you want and little by little with yegiya and hasmada continue working at it. what else is there to do?
    I sense you have a similar feeling to me that if you aren’t a gaon olam that knows shas, shulchan aruch with the nosei keilim, Rambam and all halacha/mussar sforim you’re basically an oisvorf and its all futile. If you read that sentence out loud though you’ll see you disagree with it and it answers your questions.
    Hatzlacha and may we all go m’chayil l’chayil

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    Sam, DY, – How easy/difficult do you think it is for a person described in the OP to be able to self-learn the language?

    Sorry, there’s not enough information for me to even hazard a guess.


    This is me too. I went to Yeshiva from kindergarten thru high school but was taught ivrit b’ivrit in elementary school. I guess I missed the basics in the early grades and it was a snowball effect. I learned to read and pronounce the language properly but never really learned to understand or speak it well. Also back in my day, the rebbeim were old men who didn’t really motivate the kids to learn. BH the yeshivas today are much better in that respect.


    @slominer , everyone can learn how to pick up a sefer and learn it. The question is how much effort one puts into it. When I was in bais medrash I did as I described in my last pist. The lingo is learnable. Most important thing dont make the task too difficult. Thats why I recommend an easy read shalos and teshuvah sefer. Since the Hebrew isnt hard and the topic iss are interesting. You go through one question at a time and you will see that after figuring out the q and a ,you will feel accomplished.


    Some people have a very hard time with language. This only gets worse as you grow older. There are plenty of Shiurim of all types. Find the right flavor of Halacha Shiurim to follow and within a few months you’ll be able to out-maneuver most of your peers. That’ll do away with the Am Haaretz feelings.

    But parallel to this it is still worthwhile to make a steady effort in learning real Sefarim. Start with Chumash. If you are comfortable with Chumash it shouldn’t be a big deal to move to Mishnayos with Rav/Tiferes Yisroel.

    However, you should desperate these two distinct efforts. Don’t let the slow progress of one get in the way of the other.


    “How easy/difficult do you think it is for a person described in the OP to be able to self-learn the language”

    There are two separate issues here. One is the simple language, may it be loshon kodesh and Aramaic, and then we have the Talmdic language. Meaning, even if you are pretty proficient in lashon kodesh/Aramaic, the Talmud has its own difficulties, let it be its laws of logic, expressions, idioms, structure etc. Something that many kids can not relate to, even if they are smart, for many different reasons.

    I once read a book/sefer from one of Israel’s top professional mechanoch/therapist named אור בשבילי הגמרא where he has developed a strategy of how to properly teach kids Talmud.

    According to his personal experiences and many of his trained students; many kids who have been labeled as doomed in a typical Yeshiva once they were taught his strategy, they had no issues..

    You can probably google the above name to find out more.

    Jewish Music Lover

    If I may be so bold as to recommend Nachman Marcuson’s Guide to Lashon Hakodesh, both books. One book is subtitled Mastering the Basics, and the 2nd book is subtitled Mastering Hebrew Verbs. It’s a do it yourself program and may be helpful to you.

    In terms of actual learning from a sefer, I find it helpful to use a good hebrew english dictionary. Yes, it’s tedious to look up so many words at first, but eventually the ones that I looked up several times eventually stuck.

    The most important thing is to be patient with yourself and maintain a positive attitude. Fluency in translation will not happen overnight, but you’ll be surprised how much you can absorb by looking up words in a dictionary. True, sometimes modern dictionaries don’t have the biblical and/or mishnaic terminology, but in those cases where they don’t, you can use an English translation of that sefer to help you out.
    Gemara learning is challenging for many of us, and Understanding The Talmud by Rabbi Feigenbaum, as well as the Practical Talmud Dictionary by Rabbi Frank are excellent resources for learning the terminology and translations of key words and phrases in the Gemara.

    Don’t be concerned with “how you look” or “how you rate” compared to others’ level of learning. Just keep your eye on your goal of improving, and keep yourself headed toward growth in learning, no matter how slow it may seem. You’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish.


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