Medicine to become a gadol

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    Someone I know (a baalhobos) has a son who is very bright but cannot sit still. The son was always able to keep up with his class in limudei kodesh because of his mental acuity, but as he experienced mesivta last year for the first time, he had some trouble keeping up because he had to sit and learn by himself for the first time. He is starting 10th grade and he will now have two full hours of seder each morning before shiur.

    He and his father are worried that he will not be able to deal with the extended seder or with the general setup of a mesifta going forward. They have two options. One is to find a program where the boy will learn at a significantly lower level while focusing more on other skills, which he will pursue as soon as he graduates high school. The other option is to take medicine that will help him focus.

    He consulted with a renowned expert in the field of ADHD, and the fellow told him that for his purposes, if he takes the regular ADHD medicines that some people take, he will just raise his tolerance level until it will be roughly useless in a couple years. So the doctor suggested that he start with a lower dose of ADHD medicine only a few times a week, and also take an experimental drug that has not been FDA approved (although it’s available through health food stores and has been approved in other countries) that supposedly raises “consciousness” and “awareness” and “short-term memory”.

    Would you suggest that the boy remain in his current yeshiva and take the medication, or leave and pursue other avenues?


    If he really wants to learn on the level that he is mentally capable of, he should try the medicine. He can always stop taking it if it doesn’t work or has nasty side effects. He and his father should be in touch regularly with his psychiatrist to assess the medication’s efficacy and discuss whether or not to tweak the dosage.


    While I take issue with the title of the thread, cause you can’t take medicine to become an anything, much less a gadol, I think the parents should go with the meds. Nothing is more important than the boy’s self esteem. He NEEDS to survive and do well in school. There are a lot of heavy demands placed on our young teens and if the meds will help him focus, go for it.

    The little I know

    I am a bit taken aback by the moderators permitting a question like this on the forum. It is a medical question, to be answered by an appropriate professional for the specific case posed in the question. The opinions of the mass lay audience who lack the proper training are irrelevant to the subject matter.

    The entire subject of ADHD has been brought to the lay public as an issue of debate, and this is another version of the abuse committed by mass media. There is hysteria in either direction, whether the non-medical educators insisting that a child be medicated to be allowed in school/yeshiva, to the physicians (usually pediatricians with some, but not enough, training) who rush to prescribe. Others yell about the overmedicating of our children. Some media (including frum publications) have allowed the anti-Ritalin movement the freedom to rant on their pages, while others have allowed medical professionals a voice. All of this is completely irresponsible.

    There is a legitimate disorder of ADHD (actually a spectrum of disorders). Anyone presenting such symptoms should be professionally evaluated by someone who has experience and training. Such specialists are in position to make responsible recommendations, prescribe when needed, and to know the difference.

    I would refrain from using the CR for guidance on such a matter unless I knew the commenter was a properly trained professional. With the anonymity here, one can never know.


    The little I know – the question is posed here for discussion because it is interesting. The family is not eagerly awaiting the coffee room consensus so they can order their medication or begin writing speeches for the Agudah convention.

    Oh Shreck!

    “Medicine to become a gadol”

    Isn’t that growth hormone therapy?


    IMO, the reason it’s a question is because of the second, experimental medicine. My impression is that the FDA didn’t approve it per se because they felt the test results weren’t up to snuff, but because there weren’t dramatic side effects they avoided the issue by not considering it a drug. But it’s literally impossible to know what the effect will be over the long term. In such a situation I wonder if it’s better to just accept that some people have certain kochos and other people have other kochos.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    If the meds will be effective for a couple of years, I would say to use them, and worry about the next approach in a couple if years.

    I also agree (obviously) with the legitimacy of the discussion, much as I think it’s appropriate to discuss halachah, which in no way diminishes the role of a posek.


    Is it a done deal, based on the consultation with the renowned expert, that the boy has ADHD? I am acquainted first hand with cases where meds were a condition to return to mesivta in the 10th grade. The boy took the meds & was aware of the effect it had on his body & personality. He didn’t feel like he was himself anymore. As far as self-esteem, having to take meds so “I can be like the other boys” does nothing for self-esteem. The solution in these cases was to find a mesivta that had more guidance for the younger boys (yes, 10th grade is younger boys), shorter independent prep time, a menahel/mashgiach who is astute in assigning pairing the right chavrusas. This does not mean a place with significantly lower learning. He will shteig just as well. And if this prevents him from becoming a gadol at 15, we’ll just have to wait until he’s 18.

    🐵 ⌨ Gamanit

    Well, if you tell him the medication is to make him like other boys, I can see why that wouldn’t be good for his self-esteem. But why not tell him the truth? Tell him that he’s a wonderful boy, and he’s perfect the way he is. The problem is, that school isn’t the real world. You can’t enter the real world until you finish school. Until he finishes school, he’ll have to slow down his mind to match other kids so that the teachers can keep up with him. As soon as he goes into the real world, he can set his own pace. The medication can help him slow down and focus on slow moving material. That way he’ll have the advantage of learning on a higher level than if he would have to settle for the teachers willing to teach a boy with a faster brain speed.


    I hate to be cynical, Left to Write, but “more personal attention” is synonymous with “lower caliber of learning”.

    The little I know

    left to write:

    I alluded to the danger of having ADHD medication essentially prescribed by an educator, who generally knows nothing about psychology or medicine. He/she just wants to have a medicated youngster in the class who will “easier” to manage. Whether that is in the best interest of the child is beyond the teacher or menahel’s training to assess, and that is precisely why that situation is a disaster waiting to happen. If that evaluation was done by a responsible professional, the diagnosis and recommendation will likely be far more reliable and responsible. As for the prescription-happy doctors, these are usually the non-psychiatrists who acquiesce to the demands of the parents who relay the pressure imposed by the irresponsible educators.

    Of course all medications are likely to have their side effects, and whether to use them even when they are indicated is a decision that needs to be made by the individual with the guidance of the medical professional. What works for one child may not work for another. No yeshiva can know the answer to that, and they are outside of their domain when they make these ultimatums.

    I know some of the professionals who specialize in attentional disorders quite well. None of them guarantee a diagnosis of ADHD or anything else, but assess a patient on the merits of the presenting symptoms and condition. Behaving differently is a violation of professional ethics. It is also completely immoral to diagnose and treat a patient based on anything but the patient’s needs. And parents are good providers of information and history, but they make poor diagnosticians. Schools and yeshivos are completely incompetent to practice medicine, and should be recognized as violating Jewish morals and ethics by attempting to tell doctors what to conclude and how to treat.

    There is a Ramban (in Sefer Toras Ho’odom) that addresses the practice of medicine in which he states openly that only one with proper training is permitted to do so. Others are essentially guilty of being mazik the patient. Check it out.

    Shopping613 🌠

    Gamanit, the medicine still can have side affects and affect a person’s body, such as their weight and height and a person’s personality.


    Instead of changing the child to fit the system, why don’t we change the system to fit the child?

    In S’dom, they used to put people into beds which were the wrong size, and either stretch or cut the person to fit. Let’s not be like S’dom.


    LevAryeh, R’ Hutner is rumored to have said about a particular yeshiva that they are like S’dom, except if someone is too tall they cut off his head instead of his feet.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    Instead of changing the child to fit the system, why don’t we change the system to fit the child?

    There’s more than one child in the system.

    🐵 ⌨ Gamanit

    Gamanit, the medicine still can have side affects and affect a person’s body, such as their weight and height and a person’s personality.

    Where did I ever say the medication is without side effects? I don’t think I said anything like that. Every medication has side effects. The decision that every person has to make is whether the benefits of the medication outweigh the side effects for their particular situation. I have never heard of medication that is meant to help ADHD affecting weight, height or personality. Rather other side effects, and the persons perception of their own personality.

    Deciding whether or not to take any medication should never be taken lightly. Any person with ADHD should see a qualified psychiatrist with experience treating ADHD. Every case needs to be treated individually, and reevaluated constantly.


    On the one hand, medicine might help him to be able to focus, which would help with his learning. On the other hand, there are other ways to help him learn without medicine. I personally feel that a natural alternative is better for people. Medicine for focus seems so forceful. But it’s really up to you 🙂 what to do

    The little I know


    Your last response sounds great, but is in fact against the Torah’s instruction on how to be mechanech our children. Shlomo Hamelech (Mishlei 22:6) was specific in his statement that ???? ???? ?? ?? ????, that chinuch must adapt to the child, not the child to the system.

    One of the most severe problems our chinuch system is its almost complete neglect of the individual needs of every single child. It is extremely difficult to provide every conceivable service needed by every talmid/oh, and it is expensive. What would go a really long way would be the requirement that the hanhalah establish an individual relationship with each child. As things stand today, this is an exception to the rule, and the results of our chinuch system bear painful witness to this overwhelming failure to fulfill the mandate written by Shlomo Hamelech.

    The convenience of the mosdos and their staff is not a reason to fail at fulfilling the mandate of the entire system.


    I’ll regret writing this, but I can’t avoid seeing irony in the encouragement of pharmacological treatment to enhance performance in the beit midrash, contrasted with swift condemnation yesterday of a baseball player who doped himself to enhance his performance on the field.


    Whether the child has been diagnosed with a condition that requires medication or not, this question is framed as if he needs to take the medication because if takes this medication he WILL become a gadol, and if not, he will NOT.

    There is no magic gadol pill. Many people with great skills are not gdolim, and many people have overcome many challenges and are.

    The scenario you are describing is no different from giving a teenager performance enhancing drugs so he will become a star quarterback.


    Dolphina, I understand your point, but I am also of the sentiment that a lot of what we call “gadlus” is basically just an inborn ability to sit still for long periods of time. When I was in Yeshiva, there were a couple guys in every shiur who were brilliant but couldn’t sit still. For the first two weeks of the zman, they’d be the “best guys in the shiur,” and then they’d fall off the map. If they would have taken performance enhancing drugs, they would have been the “best guys in the shiur” for the whole zman, and the whole year. They would have eventually married Roshei Yeshiva’s daughters, (who in turn would have written letters to Rabbi Dr. Twerski about how their husbands hid the fact they were on medication) and would have had a fairly high likelihood of being gedolim. I’m oversimplifying, of course, but it’s not completely implausible.

    In all seriousness, though, we send our kids into a system that has one major goal – get as many kids as possible to be as close to “rabbinic gadlus” as possible. The kid is spending 24 hours a day, 354 days a year, and roughly 20 years of his life in this system. Wouldn’t it make sense to top it off with medication?



    Hasmada in Torah is not natural. The yetzer hora burns in every person constantly trying to destract him from learning Torah britzifus. Most people who can sit straight for an hour or 2 and learn solidly started with 5-10 minutes and built it up. Theres no hasmada gene.



    totally makes sense

    But i’m going to go one further. I’m going to genetically engineer my next baby to ensure maximum gadlus. I hear they’ve isolated the gadlus gene. Should be a piece of cake.

    BTW – instead of drugs, how about paying the dude who goes to Amuka for you and have him pray for gadlus. Fewer side effects, and, i hear, guaranteed success. I think they’ll throw a rosh yeshiva’s daughter in for free too.


    WIY, that is clearly nonsense.


    WIY, Thanks.

    Been waiting for someone to say that.

    The title of this thread is either ludicrous or sad, depending on your viewpoint.

    And I happen to know someone personally who could not sit still since he learned to walk, through adolescence into adulthood, and he’s a huge Masmid. I’m in no position to judge whether or not he is a Gadol, not being intellectually equipped to farher anybody, but his hasmada is legend.


    saying that a boy can become a gadol through taking medicine is an insult to real gedolim and talmidei chachamim. They got to the top because of hard work and patience, not some adhd medication.


    Veltz, that question you originally posted, included some misleading advice/erroneous information regarding the statement about medicines for ADHD which will “ONLY increase his tolerance for it”.

    Even an uneducated regular guy can google concerta (long acting ritalin) and read medical articles about how efficient it is, how its not addictive. how it is actually very effective. I personally have ADHD. I am extremely intelligent, creative, bright, and articulate however all my childhood and yearly adulthood years, i was extremely poor at my school work and did not do well because my mind was spinning thoughts all day, while I dreamed and in fact its a miracle how I got to college because each time we had to complete a worksheet i had no clue what the lesson had just been about. making me feel really bad about myself. But somehow I managed. I caught on, but did only get mainly C’s.

    I strongly suggest you get a true picture and correct information from the Psychiatrist, and do not believe the bubba misers you hear in the shtetl, or in the shul about Ritalin. This medicine has changed the way I communicate, organize, run my day, and achieve effectively my goals. it actually puts in me a better mood daily because i am not so scrambled-hampster-brained.

    I strongly suggest your friend read the book which I also bought called “Brain Exercises to Cure ADHD”. Becuase Medication alone is never the answer. You can order books with Free Shipping worldwide from Not to mention their prices are way better than Amazon.

    By (author) Amnon Gimpel, Contributions by Lynn Gimpel, Contributions by Avigail Gimpel

    The little I know

    The making of a gadol is not by medication anyway. Gedolim are self made, though countless yeshivos dream of taking credit for one of their talmidim achieving such distinction. Some of the commenters are perfectly accurate when noting that even Talmudic brilliance will not be the deciding factor in becoming a “gadol”. There are multiple other variables. Some ride on the laurels of their ancestors, in-laws, others on their having gotten into positions of leadership and popularity. Throughout our generations, Klal Yisroel had incredible geniuses in Torah learning who never achieved the public roles as “gedolim”, and (dare I say) others who achieved status without having the true credentials to qualify.

    Will a child with learning difficulties ultimately fare better if allowed to overcome them through will, determination, and behavioral help, or will helping the child have successful years of schooling with the aid of medication prescribed and used responsibly do better? I don’t know, but it is certain that yeshivos and schools cannot answer that either. I vote to turn this over to the experts.


    “no different from giving a teenager performance enhancing drugs so he will become a star quarterback.”

    This constitutes child abuse on two fronts:

    a) Using strong medications when there is no real need, and

    b) pushing the child in a direction that he is unsuited for.

    b) can be worse than a).

    “Theres no hasmada gene.”

    Wrong. There are many dilligent lawyers and other academics.

    Some people are much more suited for long intense study than others.

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