Question:

When I review my Torah learning, I like to verbally speak it out to myself quietly. Sometimes I am embarrassed to do this in front of other people. A solution I thought of is to take a sefer and open it up in front of me so that I can look into it while I speak it out. By doing this, other people just assume that I am learning directly from the sefer. I was wondering if such a practice was permitted or would it be problematic because I am using a sefer for a purpose other than learning, which would be a lack of kavod for the sefer?

Answer:

Thank you for your question.

It is understandable that you might be embarrassed to be “caught” talking to yourself, but you should just know that things nowadays are very different then they were years ago before cell phones. Nowadays, you have no problem talking to yourself as long as you have a bluetooth in your ear. You can talk to yourself as much as you want and you might even be respected for, (people will think, your such a busy, important guy…). Additionally, it is well known in the yeshiva world that speaking out, and verbalizing what you are learning is one of the kinyonei haTorah, and it is an important thing to do. Nevertheless, if you are still embarrassed the Poskim say that if it is needed, we may benefit or use seforim in a way that will enhance our learning, and it isn’t considered using the sefer for a mundane purpose. Therefore if it is helping you to learn it is permitted.

Best wishes

Sources:

M:B 154-31, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 28-9,Ginzei Hakodesh 3-5 ftnt. 11.

Tags: kavod for seforim

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One Response to “Opening a sefer while I am reviewing my learning by heart”

  1. It should also be noted, that there’s a direct benefit in having the sefer open in front of you, which is to enable you to periodically check your memorization for accuracy.
    Having the sefer open to the current page, will save time each time you want to look inside, which is a legitimate reason for having the sefer open.

    I have also heard stories of various Torah giants (R’ Chaim Shmuelevitz, R’ Chaim Kreisworth), who would have a Gemara open in front them, in order to give the appearance that they were reading from the text, when they were actually quoting it from memory. Proof that they weren’t actually reading inside, is that, allegedly, in one case the Gemara was spotted to be on a different page, and in one case the Gemara was accidentally being held upside down!

    Evidently these Gedolim felt that not showing off their Talmudic mastery; was a legitimate reason for using the Gemara as a prop for pretending to be reading inside.

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