Why isn’t Everyone a Gaon?

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    Yabia Omer

    Someone recently mentioned the plethora of Torah that exists. It’s true. Aish Online, OU Online, AllDaf, Chabad Online, iTorah, Art scroll, Reb Eli Stefansky, Sefaria, etc etc etc. So much Torah at our fingertips. So why isn’t every Torah-learning Yid a Gaon??


    A Gaon means someone with an extensive knowledge of many, many different source of Torah. Alternatively, it’s used to mean a genius.
    Not everyone is capable of being a Gaon. Being a Gaon isn’t what one should aspire to. Each individual should try to reach their own potential.
    That said, with all the sources you listed above, do you think that leads to Gaonus? Artscroll and other learning options are great for some individuals, but it’s rare that it leads to lasting knowledge of the Gemara. One of the mashgichim in Darchei Torah, R’ Geller, once told us that “Artscroll is like a cappuccino. It can give you a temporary boost, but it doesn’t last.” Becoming a Gaon requires ameilus. You usually won’t get that from an Artscroll or Aish Online.
    As I said, they can be great for some individuals, but it should be viewed as a step towards a higher level, not as the main way of learning.


    Whenever there is kedushah, there is tumah to balance it out. Nevuah came with a ta’avah for avodah zarah. The plethora of Torah comes with additional distractions and worse of the internet. Becoming a Gaon is still a challenge, to access the good while weeding out the bad… it will never be easy to be gaon, even if the challenges of today differ significantly from the challenges of yesteryear.


    I heard this question in a mussar shmuz from my rebbi many years ago when I was in yeshiva and he answered that nowadays we many outside influences that affect our learning.


    Dear Yabia,

    While the tools you mentioned are useful, they are not broad enough to make anyone a Gaon.


    Because there is also a plethora of other things to divert our attention from learning. את זה לעומת זה. (I am only speaking for myself.)


    @OP because it would give you one topic to discuss


    today the average frum jew is much more learned than 100 yrs ago because of all the translations and shiurim. 100 yrs ago, many jews who didn’t go to yeshiva (which was also much more common than today that everyone goes) was not able to learn gemara when he got older, thats why ein yaakov was much more commen then.
    on the other hand, to a a gaon, one needs tons of studiousness, toil, great memory, great understanding, and of course help from hashem. (which all these things the translations have nothing to do with)
    may we merit to the days of ולא יהיה עסק כל העולם אלא לדעת את ה’ בלבד ולפיכך יהיו ישראל חכמים גדולים ויודעים דברים הסתומים וישיגו דעת בוראם כפי כח האדם שנאמר כי מלאה הארץ דעה את ה’ כמים לים מכסים. very soon!

    Gedol Hador

    None of these tools can make a person a Gaon. These tools are designed for baalebatim who want to learn a few hours a day. Becoming a Gaon requires many years of full-time learning, and a plan.


    The ywn coffee room. It kills learning.


    While I agree with all caveats ^, we should value all the tools we have. Studious students were at risk of not having children as they could not go to the bathroom and miss part of the class. Chofetz Chaim write that we should thank Hashem for all conveniences, such as inventing trains that made travel fast & comfortable, kal vehomer tools that help learn Torah, from book printing to online search to YWN.


    To answer the opening poster’s question: Some full-time learners are full-time stupid.


    Dear Huju,

    As can be seen by that most of the tools mentioned are geared to the uninitiated.


    Dear Sechel,

    It depends where you place your window.

    One could say the average Jew today is not religious.

    Or one could point out that the average is much lower than a hundred years ago because there is a major lack of gaonim at the top.


    Dear Yabia,

    Why isn’t your question that there a thousand times more available printed gemaras than ever before?


    The truth is that without Artscroll and other resources, people wouldn’t be learning. So is it better they learn or watch the Giants or HBO?
    People poo poo Artscroll as a crutch. What did people do before Rashi? Isn’t that an aid too?

    Sam Klein


    Boruch Hashem We have tzaddikim in every generation, these tzaddikim live a life of torah & know the entire shas & poskim backwards & forwards. Why is it that they are able to remember everything-from Shas to poskim & Shulchan aruch etc…- but we are not? If i ask 1000 people, everyone will give the same answer, of course Harav Chaim Kanievsky ZT”L made a siyum hashas every erev pesach & this Tzaddik learns Shulchan aruch 4 times a year etc… YES that is true BUT that is only the truth from this world (the olam Hasheker) what the truth from the olam Haemes? What’s Hashems Cheshban? Hashem created each person with a brain & a memory, he also created something called forgetfulness, the only problem is if there was no such a thing as forgetfulness then everyone would say i learnt the entire Mishna Brura from beginning to end, so there’s no need for me to review the Halachos of Pesach before Yom Tov. (or any other halachic situation) But when it comes to Tzaddikim-who learn Torah day & night even though they remember it from last time-they don’t learn it once Be’eyun (seriously) & the next 50 times be’kiyus (lightly). Every time they learn it, its with the same Ahavas Hatorah as the first time they learned it (if they’re not reviewing it then they’re learning it in a whole new way) so there’s no need for forgetfulness & why shouldn’t Hashem give them Hatzlacha to remember everything? (do you think Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky ZT”L or any other Rosh Yeshiva or Mashgiach learn any less because they know the entire shas & shulchan aruch from beginning to end by heart?) Going from Torah to Ahavas Hatorah is not going from level 1 to 2, it’s actually going from level 1 to level 40, there are so many steps & levels between these 2 classes until a person can reach this high level of a Gadol Hador, where this is their Simchas Ha’chaim (happiness in life). While one persons Simchas Ha’chaim is a million dollars, anothers is a vacation or a fancy car etc… Torah is what gives these Tzaddikim a Simchas Ha’chaim. Now YOU can also become a gadol Hador & grow in Torah-with the proper work & effort-it’s never too late (even Rabbi Akiva started at 40 & look what a tzaddik he became)


    Communism tried making everyone equal, it does not work.

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