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1.3.17

Review of the same section or paragraph many times

The first thing that hit me when I got to yeshiva in NY [Shar Yashuv in Queens County--not Brooklyn] was the idea of review.

Mordechei Freifeld, the son of the Rosh Yeshiva Shelomo Freifeld emphasized this idea of review {חזרה} many times--especially when I would come and say how learning fast was important and I would bring proofs from the book בנין עולם (Building the World) and the Musar book אורחות צדיקים Paths of the Righteous. To some degree I in fact tried this over the years in yeshiva. I even remember in the Mir in NY I would take one paragraph of the Pnei Yehoshua and learn each one more than ten time--sometimes even 15 or twenty. [I had a pencil and would put a dot next to the beginning of the paragraph to note each time I had read through the whole thing.]

Moti Freifeld never changed in this respect and always emphasized review. When I discovered that Reb Nachman also empathized learning fast and getting through lot of material, Moti just kept emphasizing the importance of review all the more so.

I did not know it at the time; but it is the accepted custom in Lithuanian yeshivas to learn in depth in the morning and fast in the afternoon.

I think today that one has to gauge himself.  There is a "law of limited returns." That is a law that goes thus:There is a limit to how many times you can kiss your wife that will add to marital bliss.
So when the material was basically unfamiliar to me [like when I was doing Ketuboth, Yevamot and Nida] I would basically do each Tosphot twice and not more--because I discovered that after two time I got the basic idea and doing any more times did not add anything to my understanding.


My basic compromise about all this is based on a Gemara [Talmud] לעולם לגרוס אדם והדר ליסבר. Always one should learn in the way of "Girsa" (saying the words and going on further) and afterward to make sense of it all. That is: when the material is completely unfamiliar the best thing is just to go through the whole book from beginning to end a few times. Then when you already have some idea of what is going on, then to take some individual section that you noticed seems to be pivotal or a key to the understanding of the whole subject and to do that one section many many times. This I found to be helpful in Physics also.  

When I was learning with David Bronson  in Bava Metzia I found him to be unwilling to budge an inch on anything in Tosphot that was unclear. That led to my long essay in the beginning of my little booklet on Bava Metzia on these words in Tosphot [page 97B] "Even without Abyee we would have to say that the law of Rav Yehuda comes from Shmuel." I should admit we never found an answer to that and after about two or more weeks of just sitting and staring at those couple of words we finally decide to go on. Some years later as you can see in that book, I found a tentative answer. And after  that after getting the Avi Ezri of Rav Shach I found a better answer after about 10 years of wondering about that problem.


What I ended  up saying is that Shmuel hold from certainty is better because חזקא מעיקרא in Ketuboth would not have been enough to believe the woman. That I based on the analysis of Rav Shach about the Gemara in Nida page 2

SO I suggest two sessions in Talmud, and two in Physics. A fast one where one just says the words and goes on. The other in depth in which one finds the key ideas an works on those sections and ten times or more

[So it ended up the things I did the most review on were the Mahrasha, and the Pnei Yehoshua. Those were hard but also the fact that each paragraph or idea was short made the ability to do review practical. This is less practical with Tosphot.

I should add that review seems to work better in Torah because sections in Gemara and Mishna are more or less self contained. In Physics, it seems I need to spend a lot of time in getting the big picture before woring on details becomes practical.