Torah Study, Its Retention and the Yeshiva Student

As an American, what does learning Torah do for me?

(ד) אִם יָגַעְתָּ הַרְבֵּה בְּדִבְרֵיהֶם הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מֵסִיר יֵצֶר הָרָע מִמְּךָ...

If you toil very much in the Torah’s words, the Holy One, blessed be He will remove the evil inclination from you.

כך הקב"ה אמר להם לישראל בני בראתי יצר הרע ובראתי לו תורה תבלין ואם אתם עוסקים בתורה אין אתם נמסרים בידו שנאמר (בראשית ד, ז) הלא אם תטיב שאת
So too the Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Israel: My children, I created an evil inclination, which is the wound, and I created Torah as its antidote. If you are engaged in Torah study you will not be given over into the hand of the evil inclination, as it is stated: “If you do well, shall it not be lifted up?” (Genesis 4:7). One who engages in Torah study lifts himself above the evil inclination.

(א) רַבִּי חִיָּא בְּרֵיהּ דְּרַבִּי אַבָּא דְּיָפוֹ אָמַר, הַלּוֹמֵד תּוֹרָה בְּצַעַר נוֹטֵל אֶלֶף, שֶׁלֹא בְצַעַר מָאתַיִם נוֹטֵל בִּשְׂכָרוֹ.

If you learn Torah when it is difficult for you, your reward is one thousand; when things are going smoothly for you, the reward is only two hundred.

אמר רבי שמעון בן לקיש כל העוסק בתורה יסורין בדילין הימנו שנאמר ובני רשף יגביהו עוף ואין עוף אלא תורה שנאמר התעיף עיניך בו ואיננו ואין רשף אלא יסורין שנאמר מזי רעב ולחמי רשף
Regarding this unclear verse, Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said: If one engages in Torah study, suffering stays away from him, as it is stated: “And the sparks fly upward.” And fly means nothing other than Torah, and sparks means nothing other than suffering, as it is stated: “Wasting of hunger, and the devouring of the sparks,” equating devouring sparks with wasting hunger, as both are types of suffering. From here, we derive that through Torah, fly, one is able to distance himself, upward, from suffering, sparks.

(א) שָׁנוּ חֲכָמִים בִּלְשׁוֹן הַמִּשְׁנָה, בָּרוּךְ שֶׁבָּחַר בָּהֶם וּבְמִשְׁנָתָם:
רַבִּי מֵאִיר אוֹמֵר כָּל הָעוֹסֵק בַּתּוֹרָה לִשְׁמָהּ, זוֹכֶה לִדְבָרִים הַרְבֵּה. וְלֹא עוֹד אֶלָּא שֶׁכָּל הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ כְדַי הוּא לוֹ. נִקְרָא רֵעַ, אָהוּב, אוֹהֵב אֶת הַמָּקוֹם, אוֹהֵב אֶת הַבְּרִיּוֹת, מְשַׂמֵּחַ אֶת הַמָּקוֹם, מְשַׂמֵּחַ אֶת הַבְּרִיּוֹת. וּמַלְבַּשְׁתּוֹ עֲנָוָה וְיִרְאָה, וּמַכְשַׁרְתּוֹ לִהְיוֹת צַדִּיק וְחָסִיד וְיָשָׁר וְנֶאֱמָן, וּמְרַחַקְתּוֹ מִן הַחֵטְא, וּמְקָרַבְתּוֹ לִידֵי זְכוּת, וְנֶהֱנִין מִמֶּנּוּ עֵצָה וְתוּשִׁיָּה בִּינָה וּגְבוּרָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי ח) לִי עֵצָה וְתוּשִׁיָּה אֲנִי בִינָה לִי גְבוּרָה. וְנוֹתֶנֶת לוֹ מַלְכוּת וּמֶמְשָׁלָה וְחִקּוּר דִּין, וּמְגַלִּין לוֹ רָזֵי תוֹרָה, וְנַעֲשֶׂה כְמַעְיָן הַמִּתְגַּבֵּר וּכְנָהָר שֶׁאֵינוֹ פוֹסֵק, וֶהֱוֵי צָנוּעַ וְאֶרֶךְ רוּחַ, וּמוֹחֵל עַל עֶלְבּוֹנוֹ, וּמְגַדַּלְתּוֹ וּמְרוֹמַמְתּוֹ עַל כָּל הַמַּעֲשִׂים:

(1) The Rabbis taught in the language (style) of the Mishnah: Rabbi Meir says: Anyone who involves himself in Torah for its own sake merits many things, and moreover the entire world is worthwhile for his sake; He is called "friend," "beloved," "lover of the Omnipresent," "lover of [all] creatures," "delighter of the Omnipresent," "delighter of [all] creatures." He is clothed in humility and reverence, and it prepares him to be righteous, devout, upright and trustworthy, and it distances him from sin, and draws him near to merit. We enjoy from him counsel and comprehension, understanding and strength, as it is said (Proverbs 8:14): "Mine is counsel and comprehension, I am understanding, mine is strength." It gives him kingship and dominion, and [the ability to] investigate in judgement, and the secrets of the Torah are revealed to him, and he becomes like an ever-strengthening spring, and like a river that does not stop. He is modest and long-tempered, and forgives insult to him; And it enlarges him and raises him above all [that God] made.

​​​​​​Is anyone exempt?

(ב) כָּל אִישׁ יִשְֹרָאֵל חַיָּב לִלְמֹד תּוֹרָה, בֵּין עָנִי בֵּין עָשִׁיר, בֵּין שָׁלֵם בְּגוּפוֹ בֵּין בַּעַל יִסּוּרִין, בֵּין בָּחוּר בֵּין זָקֵן גָּדוֹל. אֲפִלּוּ עָנִי הַמַּחְזִיר עַל הַפְּתָחִים, חַיָּב לִקְבֹּעַ לוֹ זְמַן לְתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה בַּיּוֹם וּבַלַּיְלָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וְהָגִיתָ בּוֹ יוֹמָם וָלַיְלָה. וּמִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ כְּלָל לִלְמֹד, אוֹ שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לוֹ מֵחֲמַת רֹב הַטְרָדוֹת, יְסַפֵּק לַאֲחֵרִים הַלּוֹמְדִים, וְתֵחָשֵׁב לוֹ כְּאִלּוּ לוֹמֵד בְּעַצְמוֹ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁדָּרְשׁוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה בַּפָּסוּק שְׂמַח זְבוּלֻן בְּצֵאתְךָ וְיִשָׂשְׂכָר בְּאֹהֳלֶיךָ, זְבוּלֻן וְיִשָׂשְׂכָר עָשׂוּ שֻׁתָּפוּת. זְבוּלֻן עָסַק בִּסְחוֹרָה וְסִפֵּק לְיִשָּׂשְׂכַר פַּרְנָסָתוֹ, שֶׁיִהְיֶה לוֹ פְּנַאי לַעַסֹק בַּתּוֹרָה. לְפִיכָךְ הִקְדִּים הַפָּסוּק זְבוּלֻן לְיִשָֹּשְֹכָר, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁתּוֹרָתוֹ שֶׁל יִשָֹשְֹכָר עַל יְדֵי זְבוּלֻן הָיְתָה. וְכֵן מָצִינוּ בַּמִּשְׁנָה (זבחים פ"א), שִׁמְעוֹן אֲחִי עֲזַרְיָה אוֹמֵר וְכוּ', וְנִקְרָא שִׁמְעוֹן עַל שֵׁם אָחִיו עֲזַרְיָה, לְפִי שֶׁעֲזַרְיָה עָסַק בִּפְרַקְמַטְיָא, וְהָיָה מְסַפֵּק צָרְכֵי שִׁמְעוֹן אָחִיו, שֶׁהָיָה עוֹסֵק בַּתּוֹרָה, וְהִתְנוּ בֵּינֵיהֶם, שֶׁיְהֵא חֵלֶק לַעֲזַרְיָה, בִּשְׂכַר לִמּוּדוֹ שֶׁל שִׁמְעוֹן. וְעַל כָּל פָּנִים יִתְאַמֵּץ כָּל אָדָם לִלְמֹד, אֲפִלּוּ רַק מְעַט, בְּכָל יוֹם וּבְכָל לַיְלָה.

(2) Every Jewish man must study the Torah, no matter whether he is poor or rich, whether he is healthy or suffering pain, whether he is young or very old. Even a beggar who goes from door to door must set aside a certain time for Torah study during the day and night, as it is written:2Joshua 1:8. "And you shall meditate in it day and night." If a person lacks the knowledge to study Torah or it is impossible for him [to study] because he is burdened with too many concerns, then he should support others who do engage in Torah study, and it will be considered as though he himself had studied, as our Rabbis of blessed memory, explained the verse: "Rejoice Zevulun in your going out and Yissachar in your tents."3Deuteronomy 33:18. Zevulun and Yissachar entered into a partnership; Zevulun engaged in business and supported Yissachar, so that he would be free to be engrossed in the study of Torah. Because of this, the Torah mentions Zevulun before Yissachar, since the Torah learning of Yissachar was made possible through the support of Zevulun. And so we find in the Mishnah: "Shimon the brother of Azaryah said …,"4Zevachim 1:2. Shimon is described as the brother of Azaryah, because Azaryah was engaged in business and provided the needs of his brother Shimon, who was engrossed in Torah study. They made an agreement between themselves, that Azaryah would have a share in Shimon's reward for [Torah] study. Even so, every person should do his utmost to study Torah, even just a little, every day and every night.

אמר רבא בשעה שמכניסין אדם לדין אומרים לו... קבעת עתים לתורה עסקת.

With regard to the same verse, Rava said: After departing from this world, when a person is brought to judgment for the life he lived in this world, they say to him in the order of that verse: Did you designate times for Torah study?

Is it a daily obligation?

(ג) (ג) ללמוד - חייב אדם ללמוד בכל יום תורה שבכתב שהוא תנ"ך ומשנה וגמרא ופוסקים...

A person (i.e. yeshiva student) is obligated on a daily basis to study written Torah, which consists of tanach

Rav Yisrael Meir HaKohein Kagan[1] states that a yeshiva student is obligated on a daily basis to study written Torah, which consists of tanach[2] [3] and oral Torah, which consists of mishnah, gemara and halacha.[4]


[1] Mishnah Berurah 155:3 and Kiddushin 30a. Regarding working people, see The Laymen’s Guide to Torah Study.

[2] As your Rav or Rebbe. However, it is permissible to read Tanach on Friday night or the night of Yom Tov (Piskei Teshuvos 238:1). It is permissible to learn Tanach along with Rashi at night (ibid. 238:1).

[3] See Rashi on Shemos 31:18 “ככלתו”.

[4] Whoever learns halachos is assured that he is destined for the World to Come… [(Megillah 28b and Niddah 73a). See also Chafetz Chaim on the Torah - Volume 1 (Israel Bookshop Publications) Maasai L’Melech, pages 243 – 244; Avos 1:17; Yevamos 109b; Kiddushin 40b and Positive Vision by Rabbi Avrohom Neuberger, pages 177-179].

(יב) (יב) ...וצריך האדם לקבוע לו עת ללמוד ספרי מוסר בכל יום ויום, אם מעט ואם הרבה, כי הגדול מחבירו יצרו גדול הימנו. ותבלין היצר הרע הוא תוכחת מאמרי חז"ל.

...it’s very important to learn mussar every day, whether a little or a lot, because the greater a person is the greater one’s evil inclination. The antidote to the evil inclination is rebuke from statements of our Sages.

Just how important is learning mussar?

(א) דין עשי"ת וערב יו"כ:
...חוב גמור על כל אדם שילמוד בכל יום בספרי היראה אם מעט ואם הרבה שהו' יותר חיוב מכל למודו ואפי' אם יתבטל עי"ז מלימוד פרק משניו' או שאר לימוד:

...“It is crucial that one study Mussar daily, even if he must take away time from learning other portions of Torah, such as a chapter of Mishniyos or Gemara!

Therefore, one who is learning mussar would be exempt from learning mishnayos or gemara,[1] but would still be obligated to learn halacha. Hence, based on the Rav Avraham Danzig and Rav Yisrael Meir HaKohein Kagan, the order would be mussar, tanach, mishnah, gemara and halacha.


[1] For someone who is involved in a mitzvah is exempt from another mitzvah (Sukkah 25a and 26a. See also Mishnah Berurah 248:1, 640:7; Aruch HaShulchan 26:2; 38:10, 11, 12, 13, 93:7 and Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Dei’ah 240:12).

Regarding, Tanach (i.e. Torah, Nevi’im and Kesuvim), how does one fulfill his obligation? Rabbeinu Tam[1] says that Talmud Bavli contains Tanach and Mishnah. Therefore, studying Gemara fulfills this requirement. Still, one still has an obligation to complete the weekly Torah portion (i.e. parsha) with the congregation by reading twice from the mikra (i.e. Torah) and once from the Targum (Onkelos).[2] It’s recommended that when one goes over the parshah he should use an ArtScroll Chumash Mikra’os Gedolos.


[1] Tosafos to Kiddushin 30a “לא צריכא ליומי” and Sanhedrin 24a “בלולה במקרא ובמשנה וכו'”. See also Bava Metzia 33a.

[2] see Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:11 and see Halachically Speaking 1 by Rabbi Moishe Dovid Lebovits, pages 181 – 187.

Is there another method of learning mishniyos, halacha and mussar? A Daily Dose of Torah by Rabbi Yosaif Asher Weiss, which includes: Torah, Mishnah, Mussar and Halachah etc.

אמר רב עמרם אמר רב שלש עבירות אין אדם ניצול מהן בכל יום הרהור עבירה ועיון תפלה ולשון הרע לשון הרע סלקא דעתך
Rav Amram says that Rav says: There are three sins from which a person is not spared each day. They are: Having sinful thoughts, and committing sins concerning deliberation in prayer, and uttering malicious speech. The Gemara asks: Can it enter your mind that a person cannot go through the day without uttering malicious speech?
אלא אבק לשון הרע אמר רב יהודה אמר רב רוב בגזל ומיעוט בעריות והכל בלשון הרע בלשון הרע סלקא דעתך אלא אבק לשון הרע:
The Gemara answers: Rather, Rav was referring to uttering a hint, i.e., words with a bare trace, of malicious speech. Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: The majority of people suc-cumb to sin with regard to robbery, and a minority of people succumb to sin with regard to sexual matters, and everyone succumbs to sin with regard to malicious speech. The Gemara asks: Can it enter your mind that all people sin with regard to malicious speech? The Gemara answers: Rather, Rav was referring to uttering a hint of malicious speech.

Why does the Gemara list these three? To teach us that these issues are neglected by most people. Meaning, one needs to learn Halachos of Other Peoples’ Money by Rabbi Bodner, Positive Vision by Rabbi A. Neuberger or The Practical Guide to Shmiras Ha’einayim by Rabbi Shaul Wagschal and The Laws of Lashon Hara and Rechilus.

For individuals, Rav Tzadok HaKohein Rabinowitz of Lublin[1] gives us a litmus test to figure out what type of mussar and halacha to learn: In that area in which his yeitzer hara pulls him the most, he is a most fitting receptacle to become exceptionally pure and innocent.”

Final ruling: One should ask his Rav or an experienced Rebbe for guidance in order not to have a burnout.[1]


[1] see Rosh Hashanah 4b.

​​​​​If one does not learn Torah daily, what will eventually happen to him?

...תניא רבי ישמעאל ברבי יוסי אומר תלמידי חכמים כל זמן שמזקינין חכמה נתוספת בהם שנאמר בישישים חכמה ואורך ימים תבונה ועמי הארץ כל זמן שמזקינין טפשות נתוספת בהן שנאמר מסיר שפה לנאמנים וטעם זקנים יקח

...It was taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yishmael, son of Rabbi Yosei, says: As Torah scholars grow older, wisdom is increased in them, as it is stated: “With aged men is wisdom; and length of days brings understanding” (Job 12:12). And as ignoramuses grow older, foolishness is increased in them, as it is stated: “He removes the speech of men of trust and takes away the understanding of the aged” (Job 12:20).

אמר אביי נקטינן אין עני אלא בדעה במערבא אמרי דדא ביה כולא ביה דלא דא ביה מה ביה דא קני מה חסר דא לא קני מה קני
Abaye said that we have a tradition: A poor person is only one lacking in intelligence, in agreement with the opinion of Rav Naḥman. In the West, Eretz Yisrael, they say: One who has this attribute, intelligence, in him has everything in him. One who does not have this attribute in him, what is in him? If he acquired this, what else is lacking? If he has not acquired this, what has he acquired?

The Gemara and Rabbi Eliyahu HaKohein HaItamri state, “The main learning of a person is what his heart desires. If it’s gemara, derush, remez or kabbalah etc. then that’s what he should learn.”[1]

Besides one’s obligation to study Torah daily, how does one determine what he likes learning on a personal level?

כי אם בתורת יקוק חפצו א"ר אין אדם לומד תורה אלא ממקום שלבו חפץ שנאמר (תהלים א, ב) כי אם בתורת יקוק חפצו

§ The Gemara returns to its interpretation of the verse that was discussed previously: “But his delight is in the Torah of the Lord” (Psalms 1:2). Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi says: A person can learn Torah only from a place in the Torah that his heart desires, as it is stated: But his delight is in the Torah of the Lord, i.e., his delight is in the part of the Torah that he wishes to study.

(ד) ...לעולם יהיה עיקר לימודך בדבר של תורה שליבך חפץ יותר, אם בגמרא גמרא, ואם בדרוש דרוש, ואם ברמז רמז, ואם בקבלה קבלה, ורמז לדבר כי אם בתורת יקוק חפצו, כלומר תורת יקוק תלויה בדבר שלבו חפץ לעסוק.

...The main learning of a person is what his heart desires. If it’s gemara, derush, remez or kabbalah etc. then that’s what he should learn...

​​​​What does man accomplish when he learns Torah on a universal level?

איני והאמר רבי אלעזר אילמלא תורה לא נתקיימו שמים וארץ שנאמר אם לא בריתי יומם ולילה חקות שמים וארץ לא שמתי מעיקרא כי עביד איניש אדעתא דנפשיה קא עביד

The Gemara asks: Is that so, that Torah study is beneficial only for the soul of the person who has studied? But didn’t Rabbi Elazar say: If not for the Torah and its study, heaven and earth would not be sustained, as it is stated: “If not for My covenant by day and by night, I would not have set up the laws of heaven and earth” (Jeremiah 33:25). It is the Torah, the eternal covenant that is studied day and night, that justifies the continued existence of the world. The Gemara answers: This is indeed correct, but at the outset when a person does this mitzva, he does it for himself, and only afterward does he have in mind the benefit that will be brought to the entire world.

ופליגא דרבי אליעזר דאמר רבי אליעזר גדולה תורה שאילמלא תורה לא נתקיימו שמים וארץ שנאמר אם לא בריתי יומם ולילה חקות שמים וארץ לא שמתי וגו'

The Gemara comments: And this statement disagrees with the words of Rabbi Eliezer, for Rabbi Eliezer said: Great is the Torah, for if not for Torah, heaven and earth would not have been established, as it is stated: “If My covenant be not with day and night, I would not have appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth” (Jeremiah 33:25). According to Rabbi Eliezer, the covenant that exists day and night is the Torah, as it says: “You should contemplate it day and night” (Joshua 1:8).

(ד) ...שִׁשָּׁה דְבָרִים קָדְמוּ לִבְרִיאַת הָעוֹלָם... הַתּוֹרָה... אָמַר רַבִּי בַּנָאי, הָעוֹלָם וּמְלוֹאוֹ לֹא נִבְרָא אֶלָּא בִּזְכוּת הַתּוֹרָה...

(4) Six things preceded the creation of the world... the Torah were created... Rabbi Bannai said: The world and its contents were only created in the merit of the Torah, as it says (Proverbs 3:19): "God founded the world with wisdom etc."

What does that statement exactly mean? Let’s use Asher Yatzar as an example. In Asher Yatzar we thank Hashem that He created within man many openings and many holes. Then, we acknowledge that if one of them were to be ruptured or blocked it would be impossible to survive and to stand before our Creator. Similarly, if all the Jews around the globe would stop learning Torah for even a second, the earth would revert to nothingness!

...הקדוש ברוך הוא עם מעשה בראשית ואמר להם אם ישראל מקבלים התורה אתם מתקיימין ואם לאו אני מחזיר אתכם לתוהו ובוהו:

The Holy One, Blessed be He, established a condition with the act of Creation, and said to them: If Israel accepts the Torah on the sixth day of Sivan, you will exist; and if they do not accept it, I will return you to the primordial state of chaos and disorder. Therefore, the earth was afraid until the Torah was given to Israel, lest it be returned to a state of chaos. Once the Jewish people accepted the Torah, the earth was calmed.

Rav Chayim of Volozhin cites Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai who says the following:

“When a man learns Torah and his lips utter words of Torah… he upholds the world. G-d is as happy with him as he was on the day He created Heaven and earth… When people are learning Torah, G-d is happy with His world. What’s more, G-d rallies all His angels and tells, ‘Look what a holy nation I have on earth, for they make a crown for the Torah.’ When the angels see their Master’s joy, they immediately proclaim, ‘Who is like Your people Yisrael, a unique nation on earth! Yisrael is happy, for G-d gave them the Torah, which is the source of His joy and delight.’”[1]


[1] Nefesh Hachaim by Rabbi Avraham Yaakov Finkel zt”l, page 154.

...אשרי מי שגדל בתורה ועמלו בתורה ועושה נחת רוח ליוצרו.

Rather, happy is he who grew up in Torah, whose labor is in Torah, who gives pleasure to his Creator,

​​​​How does one remember what he learned?

ברוריה אשכחתיה לההוא תלמידא דהוה קא גריס בלחישה בטשה ביה אמרה ליה לא כך כתוב ערוכה בכל ושמורה אם ערוכה ברמח אברים שלך משתמרת ואם לאו אינה משתמרת תנא תלמיד אחד היה לרבי אליעזר שהיה שונה בלחש לאחר שלש שנים שכח תלמודו

Berurya came across a certain student who was whispering his studies rather than raising his voice. She kicked him and said to him: Isn’t it written as follows: “Ordered in all things and secure” (ii Samuel 23:5), which indicates that if the Torah is ordered in your 248 limbs, i.e., if you exert your entire body in studying it, it will be secure, and if not, it will not be secure. The Gemara relates that it was similarly taught in a baraita: Rabbi Eliezer had a student who would study quietly, and after three years he forgot his studies.

אמר רבי יונתן לעולם אל ימנע אדם את עצמו מבית המדרש ומדברי תורה ואפילו בשעת מיתה שנאמר זאת התורה אדם כי ימות באהל אפילו בשעת מיתה תהא עוסק בתורה אמר ריש לקיש אין דברי תורה מתקיימין אלא במי שממית עצמו עליה שנאמר זאת התורה אדם כי ימות באהל אמר רבא
Following Rav’s statement, the Gemara cites that which Rabbi Yonatan said: One should never prevent himself from attending the study hall or from engaging in matters of Torah, even at the moment of death, as it is stated: “This is the Torah: A person who dies in a tent” (Numbers 19:14). That is an allusion to the fact that even at the moment of death, one should engage in the study of Torah. Reish Lakish said: Matters of Torah only endure in a person who kills himself over the Torah, one who is ready to devote all his efforts to it, as it is stated: “This is the Torah: A person who dies in a tent,” meaning that the Torah is only attained by one who kills himself in its tent. Rava said:

(יב) אֵין דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה מִתְקַיְּמִין בְּמִי שֶׁמַּרְפֶּה עַצְמוֹ עֲלֵיהֶן. וְלֹא בְּאֵלּוּ שֶׁלּוֹמְדִין מִתּוֹךְ עִדּוּן וּמִתּוֹךְ אֲכִילָה וּשְׁתִיָּה. אֶלָּא בְּמִי שֶׁמֵּמִית עַצְמוֹ עֲלֵיהֶן וּמְצַעֵר גּוּפוֹ תָּמִיד וְלֹא יִתֵּן שֵׁנָה לְעֵינָיו וּלְעַפְעַפָּיו תְּנוּמָה. אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים דֶּרֶךְ רֶמֶז (במדבר יט יד) "זֹאת הַתּוֹרָה אָדָם כִּי יָמוּת בְּאֹהֶל" אֵין הַתּוֹרָה מִתְקַיֶּמֶת אֶלָּא בְּמִי שֶׁמֵּמִית עַצְמוֹ בְּאָהֳלֵי הַחֲכָמִים. וְכֵן אָמַר שְׁלֹמֹה בְּחָכְמָתוֹ (משלי כד י) "הִתְרַפִּיתָ בְּיוֹם צָרָה צַר כֹּחֶכָה". וְעוֹד אָמַר (קהלת ב ט) "אַף חָכְמָתִי עָמְדָה לִּי" חָכְמָה שֶׁלָּמַדְתִּי בְּאַף הִיא עָמְדָה לִי. אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים בְּרִית כְּרוּתָה שֶׁכָּל הַיָּגֵעַ בְּתוֹרָתוֹ בְּבֵית הַמִּדְרָשׁ לֹא בִּמְהֵרָה הוּא מְשַׁכֵּחַ. וְכָל הַיָּגֵעַ בְּתַלְמוּדוֹ בְּצִנְעָה מַחְכִּים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי יא ב) "וְאֶת צְנוּעִים חָכְמָה". וְכָל הַמַּשְׁמִיעַ קוֹלוֹ בִּשְׁעַת תַּלְמוּדוֹ תַּלְמוּדוֹ מִתְקַיֵּם בְּיָדוֹ. אֲבָל הַקּוֹרֵא בְּלַחַשׁ בִּמְהֵרָה הוּא שׁוֹכֵחַ:

(12) The words of the Torah do not remain permanently with one who is indolent in acquiring them, nor with such who study the Torah in an environment of luxury and amidst eating and drinking, but with one who sacrifices his life for them and constantly suffers his body and does not yield sleep to his eyes nor dozing to his eyelids... The sages said: "There is an established covenant that he who endures hardship in studying the Torah in the Beth Hamedrash will not easily forget it; but he who endures the hardship of his studies privately by himself becomes wise, even as it is said: "But with the lowly is wisdom" (Prov. 11.2). He who during his study reads the words audibly, his study remains with him; but he who whispers out his words speedily forgets them.13Ketubot, 111b; Berakot, 65a; Menahot, 54a; Yer. Berakot, 41. C. G.

(כב) כִּי֩ אִם־שָׁמֹ֨ר תִּשְׁמְר֜וּן אֶת־כָּל־הַמִּצְוָ֣ה הַזֹּ֗את אֲשֶׁ֧ר אָנֹכִ֛י מְצַוֶּ֥ה אֶתְכֶ֖ם לַעֲשֹׂתָ֑הּ לְאַהֲבָ֞ה אֶת־יקוק אֱלֹקֵיכֶ֛ם לָלֶ֥כֶת בְּכָל־דְּרָכָ֖יו וּלְדָבְקָה־בֽוֹ׃
(22) If, then, you faithfully keep all this Instruction that I command you, loving the LORD your God, walking in all His ways, and holding fast to Him,
(א) שמר תשמרון. אַזְהָרַת שְׁמִירוֹת הַרְבֵּה, לְהִזָּהֵר בְּתַלְמוּדוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יִשְׁתַּכַּח (שם):
(1) שמר תשמרון [IF] YE SHALL DILIGENTLY OBSERVE [ALL THESE COMMANDMENTS] — The repetition of the verb implies an admonition to be very much on one’s guard: to be careful in respect to one’s study of the Torah that it should not be forgotten (cf. Sifrei Devarim 48:2).
(כח) שְׁמֹ֣ר וְשָׁמַעְתָּ֗ אֵ֚ת כָּל־הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה אֲשֶׁ֥ר אָנֹכִ֖י מְצַוֶּ֑ךָּ לְמַעַן֩ יִיטַ֨ב לְךָ֜ וּלְבָנֶ֤יךָ אַחֲרֶ֙יךָ֙ עַד־עוֹלָ֔ם כִּ֤י תַעֲשֶׂה֙ הַטּ֣וֹב וְהַיָּשָׁ֔ר בְּעֵינֵ֖י יקוק אֱלֹקֶֽיךָ׃ (ס)
(28) Be careful to heed all these commandments that I enjoin upon you; thus it will go well with you and with your descendants after you forever, for you will be doing what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God.
(א) שמר. זוֹ מִשְׁנָה שֶׁאַתָּה צָרִיךְ לְשָׁמְרָהּ בְּבִטְנְךָ שֶׁלֹּא תִשְׁכַּח, כָּעִנְיָן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי כ"ב) "כִּי נָעִים כִּי תִשְׁמְרֵם בְּבִטְנֶךָ", וְאִם שָׁנִיתָ אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁתִּשְׁמַע וּתְקַיֵּם, הָא כָל שֶׁאֵינוֹ בִּכְלַל מִשְׁנָה אֵינוֹ בִּכְלַל מַעֲשֶׂה (עי' ספרי):
(1) שמר KEEP [AND HEAR (understand) ALL THESE WORDS WHICH I COMMAND THEE] — This (the word שמר) implies the studying of the oral law — that you must keep it within you that it should not be forgotten, just as it is said, (Proverbs 22:18) “[And apply thy heart unto my knowledge] for it is a pleasant thing if thou keep (תשמרם) them within thee”, and only if thou learnest is it possible that thou wilt understand and fulfil the commands, but one who is not amongst those who study (lit., who is not included in learning) cannot be amongst those who act correctly (cf. Sifrei Devarim 79:3; see also Rashi on Deuteronomy 4:6). (The translation is: keep, i.e. study and retain your learning in mind: ושמעת, and then thou wilt understand how to observe the commands).
(כח) שְׁמֹ֣ר וְשָׁמַעְתָּ֗ אֵ֚ת כָּל־הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה אֲשֶׁ֥ר אָנֹכִ֖י מְצַוֶּ֑ךָּ לְמַעַן֩ יִיטַ֨ב לְךָ֜ וּלְבָנֶ֤יךָ אַחֲרֶ֙יךָ֙ עַד־עוֹלָ֔ם כִּ֤י תַעֲשֶׂה֙ הַטּ֣וֹב וְהַיָּשָׁ֔ר בְּעֵינֵ֖י יקוק אֱלֹקֶֽיךָ׃ (ס)
(28) Be careful to heed all these commandments that I enjoin upon you; thus it will go well with you and with your descendants after you forever, for you will be doing what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God.
(א) שמר. זוֹ מִשְׁנָה שֶׁאַתָּה צָרִיךְ לְשָׁמְרָהּ בְּבִטְנְךָ שֶׁלֹּא תִשְׁכַּח, כָּעִנְיָן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי כ"ב) "כִּי נָעִים כִּי תִשְׁמְרֵם בְּבִטְנֶךָ", וְאִם שָׁנִיתָ אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁתִּשְׁמַע וּתְקַיֵּם, הָא כָל שֶׁאֵינוֹ בִּכְלַל מִשְׁנָה אֵינוֹ בִּכְלַל מַעֲשֶׂה (עי' ספרי):
(1) שמר KEEP [AND HEAR (understand) ALL THESE WORDS WHICH I COMMAND THEE] — This (the word שמר) implies the studying of the oral law — that you must keep it within you that it should not be forgotten, just as it is said, (Proverbs 22:18) “[And apply thy heart unto my knowledge] for it is a pleasant thing if thou keep (תשמרם) them within thee”, and only if thou learnest is it possible that thou wilt understand and fulfil the commands, but one who is not amongst those who study (lit., who is not included in learning) cannot be amongst those who act correctly (cf. Sifrei Devarim 79:3; see also Rashi on Deuteronomy 4:6). (The translation is: keep, i.e. study and retain your learning in mind: ושמעת, and then thou wilt understand how to observe the commands).
ואמר רבי יצחק כל הקורא קריאת שמע על מטתו מזיקין בדילין הימנו שנאמר ובני רשף יגביהו עוף ואין עוף אלא תורה שנאמר התעיף עיניך בו ואיננו ואין רשף אלא מזיקין שנאמר מזי רעב ולחמי רשף וקטב מרירי

And Rabbi Yitzḥak said: Anyone who recites Shema upon his bed, demons stay away from him. This is alluded to, as it is stated: “But man is born into trouble, and the sparks [reshef ] fly [uf ] upward” (Job 5:7). The verse is explained: The word fly [uf ] means nothing other than Torah, as Torah is difficult to grasp and easy to lose, like something that floats away, as it is stated: “Will you set your eyes upon it? It is gone; for riches certainly make themselves wings, like an eagle that flies into the heavens” (Proverbs 23:5). The word “sparks” means nothing other than demons, as it is stated: “Wasting of hunger, and the devouring of the sparks [reshef] and bitter destruction [ketev meriri], and the teeth of beasts I will send upon them, with the venom of crawling things of the dust” (Deuteronomy 32:24). Here we see reshef listed along with ketev meriri, both of which are understood by the Sages to be names of demons.

התעיף עיניך בו - אם תכפל וסגרת עיניך בתורה היא משתכחת ממך:

אמר רבא אמר רב סחורה אמר רב הונא מאי דכתיב (משלי יג, יא) הון מהבל ימעט וקובץ על יד ירבה אם עושה אדם תורתו חבילות חבילות מתמעט ואם קובץ על יד ירבה אמר רבא ידעי רבנן להא מילתא ועברי עלה אמר רב נחמן בר יצחק אנא עבידתה וקיים בידי
The Gemara cites other statements relating to Torah study. Rava says that Rav Seḥora says that Rav Huna says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Wealth gotten through vanity [mehevel] shall be diminished; but he that gathers little by little shall increase” (Proverbs 13:11)? If a person turns his Torah into many bundles [ḥavilot], by studying large amounts in a short period of time without reviewing, his Torah will diminish. But if he gathers his knowledge little by little, by studying slowly and reviewing, his knowledge shall increase. Rava said: The Sages know this, but nevertheless they transgress it, i.e., they fail to heed this advice. Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak says: I did this, as I studied little by little and regularly reviewed what I had learned, and my learning has in fact endured.
אמר (רבה) אמר רב סחורה אמר רב הונא מאי דכתיב הון מהבל ימעט וקובץ על יד ירבה אם עושה אדם תורתו חבילות חבילות מתמעט ואם לאו קובץ על יד ירבה אמר רבה ידעי רבנן להא מלתא ועברי עלה אמר רב נחמן בר יצחק אנא עבדתה ואיקיים בידאי:
Similarly, Rabba said that Rav Seḥora said that Rav Huna said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Wealth gotten through vanity [hevel] shall be diminished; but he that gathers little by little shall increase” (Proverbs 13:11)? If a person turns his Torah into bundles [ḥavilot, derived from the word hevel by replacing the heh with a ḥet], studying large amounts at the same time, his Torah will diminish. And if not, i.e., if he learns little by little and reviews what he has learned, he that gathers little by little shall increase. Rabba said: The Sages know this, but nevertheless transgress it, i.e., they fail to heed this advice. Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak said: I did this, learning little by little and regularly reviewing what I had learned, and my learning has indeed endured.

(ז) ואולם מי שמטהר ומקדש עצמו במעשיו הוא ימשיך בתלמודו השפעה כשיעור ההכנה שהכין את עצמו וכשיעור שירבה בהכנה כן ירבה יקר התלמוד וכחו. והוא מה שמצינו בחכמים הקדמונים שתורתם היתה מעטירתם כח גדול ונותנת להם מעלה ויקר מה שלא נמצא בדורות האחרונים מפני יתרון הכנתם על הכנת האחרונים. וכבר אמרו על יונתן בן עוזיאל שבשעה שהיה עוסק בתורה כל עוף שהיה פורח עליו היה נשרף (סוכה כח.) מפני עוצם השראת השכינה שהיתה שורה עליו ע״י לימודו:

A person must refine his deeds if he wishes to fully benefit from the spiritual influence of Torah.

(קסח) וכן בעל מעשה העבודה אם ישתדל וימהר ויחרץ לעשות מה שיש ביכלתו יעזרהו האלקים לעשות מה שהוא למעלה מיכלתו אשר הוא הפרי העליון והטובה הנכבדת מאת האלקים על סגולתו ואנשי אהבתו בעוה״‎ז, כמו שארז״‎ל כל המקיים את התורה מעוני סופו לקיימה מעושר ואמר החכם (קהלת ב׳:כ״ו) כי לאדם שטוב לפניו וגו׳ ‎‎

(168) Likewise for one who strives to do actions for the service (of G-d), if he exerts himself with diligence and zeal to do what is in his power to do - G-d will help him to accomplish what is beyond his ability, namely, the divine fruit and the glorious good from G-d on His treasured ones and His beloved ones in this world, as our sages said: "whoever fulfills the torah from poverty will fulfill it from wealth" (Avos 4:9), and the wise man said: "For to a man who is good in His sight, He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy" (Koheles 2:26).

​​​​​How many times should one review his material? Rav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, known as the Steipler Gaon[1] says at least four times.[2] [3]


[1] I.e. Rav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky.

[2] Karyana D’Igarta, volume I, #11.

[3] see Brain Power by Rabbi Aharon Yehoshua Pessin, page 35, note 1, second paragraph; Artscroll Pesachim 72a and Kesubos 50a, note 31.

Are there any food(s) which can facilitate one’s learning?

לא טעים אומצא - בשר מעט בגחלים היו רגילין לטעום בבקר:

Meat and other nourishing foods can invigorate the body to enable a person to study Torah better.

When should one not review his learning?

Not during davening. There is a widespread misconception that learning is permitted during chazaras hashatz.[1] HaRav Chaim Kanievesky shlit”a, says, “People do not receive a reward for learning then; on the contrary, they get an aveirah.”[2]


[1] Mishnah Berurah 17, Aruch HaShulchan 17 and Igros Moshe, Orach Chayim 4:19.

[2] Halachically Speaking 2 by Rabbi Moishe Dovid Lebovits, pages 147 – 148.

What can cause one to forget his Torah learning?

(ו) הוא היה אומר יכול אדם ללמוד תורה בעשרים שנה ולשכח בשתי שנים. כיצד ישב ששה חדשים ואין חוזר לאחריו נמצא אומר על טמא טהור ועל טהור טמא. שנים עשר חדשים ולא חזר לאחריו נמצא מחליף חכמים זה בזה. י״ח חדשים ולא חזר לאחריו נמצא משכח ראשי מסכתותיו. כ״ד חדשים ואין חוזר לאחריו נמצא משכח ראשי פרקים ומתוך שאמר על טמא טהור ועל טהור טמא ומחליף חכם בחכם ומשכח ראשי מסכתותיו וראשי פרקיו סוף שיושב ודומם ועליו אמר שלמה (משלי כד) על שדה איש עצל עברתי ועל כרם אדם חסר לב והנה עלה כלו קמשונים כסו פניו חרולים וגדר אבניו נהרסה. וכיון שנפל כותלו של כרם מיד חרב כל הכרם כולו:

A person can learn Torah for ten years and yet forget it all in just two. How is that possible? If a person sits idly for six months without review, he will begin to say of that which is impure that it is pure and vice versa. After twelve months without review, he will switch the names of the sages one with another. After eighteen months without review, he will forget entire sections. After twenty-four months without review, he will forget entire mesechtos.[1] [After reaching this state]’ he will eventually sit silently and be inactive…”


[1] As Moshe Yaakov Ibn Ezra says, “Memory cannot recall more than what was forgotten (see Brain Power by Rabbi Aharon Yehoshua Pessin, page 32, note 3 [quote slightly changed]). In addition, see Ohr HaChayim HaKadosh on Vayikra 26:3, as to why we forget our learning.

​​​​​Looking at immodest things. Therefore, Rav Eliyahu de Vidas[1] forewarns us:

“Everything that a person looks at, the image penetrates and fixes itself in his mind[2] and when he comes to pray or to study Torah, those material images appear in his mind, and they damage and invalidate his thoughts[3] and he will not be able to concentrate as required, because the eyes only see through the power that resides in the soul and the soul receives those images that come through the eyes and if the person looks at nakedness, he causes nakedness to penetrate in a high place.”


[1] see Reishis Chochmah, Sha’ar HaKedushah, chapter 8, “ודע”.

[2] see Mishlei 4:23; Rabbeinu Bachayei to Bereishis 2:7 “וצריך” and Even Ezra to Shemos 23:25 “אמר”.

[3] see Nefesh Hachaim by Rabbi Avraham Yaakov Finkel zt”l, page 56.

The Yeshiva and Its Student

(יג) אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמִּצְוָה לִלְמֹד בַּיּוֹם וּבַלַּיְלָה אֵין אָדָם לָמֵד רֹב חָכְמָתוֹ אֶלָּא בַּלַּיְלָה. לְפִיכָךְ מִי שֶׁרָצָה לִזְכּוֹת בְּכֶתֶר הַתּוֹרָה יִזָּהֵר בְּכָל לֵילוֹתָיו וְלֹא יְאַבֵּד אֲפִלּוּ אֶחָד מֵהֶן בְּשֵׁנָה וַאֲכִילָה וּשְׁתִיָּה וְשִׂיחָה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן אֶלָּא בְּתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה וְדִבְרֵי חָכְמָה. אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים אֵין רִנָּה שֶׁל תּוֹרָה אֶלָּא בַּלַּיְלָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (איכה ב יט) "קוּמִי רֹנִּי בַלַּיְלָה". וְכָל הָעוֹסֵק בַּתּוֹרָה בַּלַּיְלָה חוּט שֶׁל חֶסֶד נִמְשָׁךְ עָלָיו בַּיּוֹם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהילים מב ט) "יוֹמָם יְצַוֶּה יקוק חַסְדּוֹ וּבַלַּיְלָה שִׁירֹה עִמִּי תְּפִלָּה לְאֵל חַיָּי". וְכָל בַּיִת שֶׁאֵין נִשְׁמָעִים בּוֹ דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה בַּלַּיְלָה אֵשׁ אוֹכַלְתּוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (איוב כ כו) "כָּל חשֶׁךְ טָמוּן לִצְפּוּנָיו תְּאָכְלֵהוּ אֵשׁ לֹא נֻפָּח". כִּי דְבַר יקוק בָּזָה זֶה שֶׁלֹּא הִשְׁגִּיחַ עַל דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה כָּל עִקָּר. וְכֵן כָּל שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לַעֲסֹק בַּתּוֹרָה וְאֵינוֹ עוֹסֵק אוֹ שֶׁקָּרָא וְשָׁנָה וּפֵרַשׁ לְהַבְלֵי עוֹלָם וְהֵנִיחַ תַּלְמוּדוֹ וּזְנָחוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה בִּכְלַל בּוֹזֶה דְּבַר יקוק. אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים כָּל הַמְבַטֵּל אֶת הַתּוֹרָה מֵעשֶׁר סוֹפוֹ לְבַטְּלָהּ מֵעֹנִי וְכָל הַמְקַיֵּם אֶת הַתּוֹרָה מֵעֹנִי סוֹפוֹ לְקַיְּמָהּ מֵעשֶׁר. וְעִנְיָן זֶה מְפֹרָשׁ הוּא בַּתּוֹרָה, הֲרֵי הוּא אוֹמֵר (דברים כח מז) "תַּחַת אֲשֶׁר לֹא עָבַדְתָּ אֶת יקוק אֱלֹקֶיךָ בְּשִׂמְחָה וּבְטוּב לֵבָב מֵרֹב כּל" (דברים כח מח) "וְעָבַדְתָּ אֶת אֹיְבֶיךָ". וְאוֹמֵר (דברים ח ב) "לְמַעַן עַנֹּתְךָ" (דברים ח טז) "לְהֵיטִבְךָ בְּאַחֲרִיתֶךָ":

(13) Although it is mandatory to study by day and by night, no man acquires most of his wisdom at any but during night-time. Therefore, whosoever desires to attain the crown of the Torah should take care of all of his nights, not to spend even one of them in sleeping, eating, drinking, conversation, or in like matters, but in study of the Torah and in matters of wisdom. The sages said: "The voice of the Torah cannot be heard save at night, as it is said 'Arise and speak loud in the night'" (Midrash Raba, Song of Songs, 5.11; Erubin, 65a; Lam. 2.19. Whosoever pursues the study of the Torah by night has a thread of God's lovingkindness drawn upon himself by day, as it is said: "By day the Lord will command His lovingkindness and in the night His song shall be with a prayer unto the God of my life" (Abodah Zarah, 3b; Ps. 42.9).

Based on the Rambam, that could be the reason why yeshivos have night seider.

During bein hazmanim, vacation time, a yeshiva student tends to be a little lax when it comes to having a learning seider. Therefore, if he didn’t learn a word of Torah that day, he should be meticulous in learning at night.

(א) לקבוע עתים לתורה בלילה ובו ב סעיפים:

צריך ליזהר בלמוד הלילה יותר מבשל יום והמבטלו עונשו מרובה:

On Shabbos or Yom Tov, one is at home with his family. Yet, the Gemara[1] informs us, “Shabbosos and Yomim Tovim were given to (Yisrael) only for the study of Torah…” If one wants to go for a walk with his friends etc., that’s fine. First, learn Torah for whatever duration of time that one is capable of. Why? Sholom HaMelech says, “The Torah of Hashem is perfect in restoring the soul[2] and Shabbos is the day of the soul, not the day of the body.”[3]


[1] Yerushalmi, Shabbos 78a “רבי ברכיה בשם רבי חייא בר בא לא ניתנו שבתות וימים טובים אלא לעסוק בהן בדברי תורה”. See also Beis Yoseif, Orach Chayim 288:1.

[2] Tehillim 19:8.

[3] Zohar volume 2, Vayakhel 205a “הַאי יוֹמָא, יוֹמָא דְּנִשְׁמָתִין אִיהוּ”.

Dedicated:

  • In memory of Eliyahu ben Mordechai, Mashah Tzivyah bas R’ Shlomo Zalman, Altah Soshah Devorah bas Aryeh Leibush, Chaim ben Shmuel Efraim Zalman, Tuvyah Shlomo ben Naftali Tzvi HaKohein, Esther Perel bas R’ Shlomo, Miriam bas Zelig Shaul, Menachem ben Shimon, Menachem ben Zev, Sarah bas HaRav Yisroel, Yosef ben Moshe HaLevi, Yisroel ben Yeshayah, Elisheva Basyah bas Yechiel Ephraim and all the other departed souls of our nation.
  • For the complete recovery of Chayah Malka bas Bas-Sheva, among the other sick ones of our nation.