Reb Moshe and the broken tape recorder

Royalty free graphic from here

I recently listened to a shiur by Rav Weinberger that was given to a group of women in Waterbury, CT.  I think the content, messages, and stories (the “jukim” story, the “Lost Horse”, and the “I know the Shephard” story) are similar to a shiur from 2008 posted by Dixie Yid.  The shiur, titled “Chinuch & Chanukah: Chinuch with a Heart” actually starts about 50 seconds into the recording and is available here.  The shiur revolves around the difference between “teaching” and “giving over” Torah. 

Rav Weinberger tells mentions an important article on chinuch that was published in Hakirah, The Flatbush Journal of Jewish Law and Thought by Dr. Aharon Hersh Fried.  The article, titled, Is There a Disconnect between Torah Learning and Torah Living?  And If So, How Can We Connect Them? A Focus on Middos is available for reading or downloading here.

What follows in my transcription of Rav Weinberger telling over a story that was included in the above mentioned article.  Any mistakes in writing down Rav Weinberger’s words are mine.

Some years ago, in Rav Reuven Feinstein’s yeshiva, there were two boys who had an argument.  What happened?  Let’s call them Reuven and Shimon.  Revuen lent his tape recorder to Shimon and Shimon dropped the tape record and it broke.  And they were arguing.  Revuen said, “I lent you the tape recorder and you broke it.  You have to get me a new one.”

Shimon says, “It wasn’t my fault, it was an accident.”

And they were arguing and decided that they would go to the Rosh Yeshiva, which is a good thing.  They went to Reb Reuven Feinstein, they went to the Rosh Yeshiva to ask him what’s the halacha then.  This is what happened.  Rav Reuven Feinstein was absolutly astonished by the question.  Not with nachas, he was astonished.  He said, “You’re learning all year since September, your learning the gemara.  Everyday you have charts on the blackboard.   You’re learning the gemara “Bava Metzia” that teaches that when someone borrows something he’s responsible when it breaks.  If you borrow something you’re responsible.”  Rav Reuven was so distrubed by this.  He couldn’t understand how’s it possible that the boy, how could he not know that? That’s all they’re learning and they’re getting 100s on their tests. שואל חייב באונסין , it’s a gemara.  It’s all over the gemara.  If you borrow, you’re chai’ev (responsible).

So, he was so upset, Rav Reuven went to his father.  He went to Reb Moshe, Zecher Tzaddik V’Kodesh L’Vracha.  He went to Reb Moshe and he asked, “How can it be that the boys did not know that?”

So, Reb Moshe said, “Because what they’ve seen in their lives has no relationship to what they’re learning in yeshiva.  It’s completely irrelevant.  They do not see their parents living the lives that they learn in the seforim, nor do they see it so clearly in the yeshiva.”  That’s what Reb Moshe said.

They would never dream of making a connection between what they learned all year and how to practically live.  It might have been taught, but it wasn’t given over.

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