Monday, August 25, 2008

Learning How Much You Need To Learn

(courtesy of

The main purpose of our trip to Israel was to figure out where we would be learning next year. Our Rabbi recommended the yeshiva/seminary that he learned at with his wife before he recieved smicha, and Baruch Hashem, that we followed his advice. My wife and I have experience learning at other Baal Teshuva yeshivot and seminaries and at least my own experience has shown me that learning Hashkafa comes before Halacha in many cases. This never sat right with me that getting a Black Hat or a Gartel was the goal when one could'nt even learn a sugia of Gemara. Because of this, you have B.T. Bochur A putting down B.T. Bochur B for not keeping Chalav Yisroel or Pas Yisroel when he doesn't know the source for the Halacha, where you can be makel, or the legitimate Heters given by poskim. All Bochur A knows is that a Rabbi told him something and that MUST be the only way. Most B.T yeshivas simply push their minhagim and their interpretations of halacha on impressionable Yidden and cause the B.T to think this is the only way.

This isnt to say anything negative about any B.T. yeshiva, because B"H they bring Jews back to Torah and regardless of how they do it, its bringing Moshiach quicker. Its just not a direction that speaks to me. This is why I can say Darche Noam, is (for the Baal Teshuva) that best Torah Institution on Earth. We learned there for a few weeks and also spent time with many of their Alumni and I noticed two things they all had in common. First they all very much had their own Hashkafa and they were all different types, Chassidic, Litvish, Religious Nationalist, Sephari, and the second thing they had in common was they were all Talmid Chachamim. They knew how to pull halacha out of Gemara and Shulchan Aruch and I'm not talking about the Kitzer. The beautiful thing about Darche Noam is that you learn how to learn. You dont rely on what one Rabbi says, you learn to listen to what one Rabbi has to say and then research yourself to figure out what you should do.

Darche Noam's faculty also is something special as all walks of Yidden teach there. Different types of Chassidic Rabbis, Rabbis with smicha from Mir, even HaGoan Rabbi Kamenetsky's son is on faculty. So for those critical of Darche Noams "lack of" hashkafa will have no problem finding a Rabbi to latch on to and seek for guidance.

Our plan iy"H is to start next summer and go a full year and see where we are at. We went to shuir's at other yeshivas and I had a chevrusa at another and just looking at the people at other yeshivas I knew Darche Noam was where I need to be. At Darche Noam not to many put in the time learning to leave and go clubbing in Tel Aviv at night and no one wakes up at 2pm and daven shachris with their Tefillin on in the Beis Midrash.

Being at the yeshiva really smacked me with a reality check. How much I knew, How much I now know, but more how much I Need to know. Of course we are always learning, but outside of Israel in the darkness of Chutz La'Aretz its really easy to think you know something.

Our experience has brought light back to the darkness and I pray to G-d that he keeps blessing me with the light until we get back to the source in his Holy Land of Eretz Yisroel


Miriam Woelke said...



Maybe you can write something more about Darche Noam. I know that they are in Beit HaKerem but I don't know much about their students and curriculum.

I don't envy you going back to the Diaspora. :-)

Long Beach Chasid said...

7am Davening and then Gemara Shuir from 9-1 then after Lunch and Mincha learning from 3-7:30 in different subjects that change daily. Chumash, Chassidus, Mussar, Navi, Ulpan, Hashkafa, Halacha as well as a seperate class on Halachos of Eretz Yisroel (very benificial during Shmita).

there are 2 levels of Chumash and Halacha and 7 levels of Gemara. The high level you are in Gemara the more you focus on Gemara.

The top students have 1 on 1 with Rabbis.

Most students there are college graduates and everyone is much more mature that most baal teshuva yeshivas. They dont bring down the iron fist on you and even with freedom the students choose serious learning.

There are all types of Jews who dress different, come from different communities all over the world but have 1 thing in common.

Following the mitzvot we can till we can fufill them all with the coming of Moshiach.

you have everyone from knitted kippot to velvet white shirt black hat everyday. A couple chassidim with payos and beards.

All they care about is Torah, not how you look.

My next blog will be on my wifes & I's experience in Bnei Brak for Shabbos. The most amazing Shabbos Ive ever had and i dont speak yiddish or hebrew.

Stay tuned.

Miriam Woelke said...


I know Darche Noam (Shapell
's) but its problem is that it is a little far away (in Beit HaKerem). Well, not as far as "Dvar Yerushalaim" in Har Nof but still overlooked and underestimated. Unfortunately most people only consider AISH, MIR and Ohr Sameach as the most precious Kiruv.

I am curious to hear about Bnei Brak, as I, so far, never made it for too many excitements there. :-))))

Menashe said...

The problem with learning halacha first and hashkafa later is that in the mean time you may have been doing, at the very least, not the best thing! We said be mattan torah naaseh vnishma. Obviously you need to know the details of what you're doing, but at the end of the day, ha maisa hu haikar. I'll take your example of cholov and pas yisroel. Many chassidim are makpid to only eat pas yisroel while acknowledging that there's another acceptable but not mehudardik way. Cholov yisroel on the other hand is considered by most chassidim to be halacha lmaisa - many rebbeim never accepted R' Feinstein's heter ie. not just that OU-d is not the best but that it is treif for someone that doesn't hold by this heter.

Bottom line: It's more important to do and then later learn why others choose leniencies. I think that's why most BT yeshivos funtion the way they do.

Long Beach Chasid said...

We aren't talking about about doing before understand or understanding before doing. We are talking about the importance of learning Halacha before Hashkafa not ignoring either of the 2.

Its also not the best thing for a B.T. to learning one opinion and then think other people "do things wrong"

I made it clear in my post that other B.T yeshivas take a route different than Darche Noam and that it is good because it brings people back to Torah. It seems that is the route that speaks to you. B"H.

However after learning that way i realized that its very easy to open up Kitzer Shulchan Aruch HaRav, or another Kitzer of the Shulchan Aruch and get one opinion but im looking to a little deeper.

I respect your derech and it seems to work for you.

Darche Noam exists and is very successful because some people feel the other B.T. way of teaching isnt for them.

This is why there are students from Aish, Ohr Somayach, and Mayanot who all spent six months to a year and end up coming to learn at Darche Noam. They felt that they learned more in 3 months than they did in 6 months at their previous yeshiva.

None of what I say is my opinion its what I've taken from Faculty, Students, and Alumni and I also look at students from those other B.T. Yeshivas.

The point is that all the B.T. Yeshivas are bringing Yidden back to Torah and that is what is important. There isn't one way that speaks to everyone.

Darche Noam spoke to me above other Yeshivas and thats why I wrote about it.

The point of my blog is express how I feel, not change others minds. If you feel that confident that the way Darche Noam teaches is not the correct way then you should look elsewhere. Your post makes it sound like you are religious and very comfortable with the derech you are on. Hatzlacha.