In the previous two posts, we wrote about Rav Breuer’s derech in learning תורה שבעל פה, the oral Torah. As important as that information is, it needs to be supplemented with Rav Breuer’s attitude regarding the study of תורה שבכתב, the written Torah, in order to get a more balanced and complete picture of the derech of this גדול בישראל, this great Jewish leader, in Torah study, לימוד התורה.
Once again, we draw upon the important article of Rabbi Yaakov Lorch in ירושתנו , to inform us about this vital matter.
Here are some choice excerpts, from pages 67-70:
“He stressed that the Sifrei HaNeviim not be regarded as mere relics of the past, but must instead be understood as sources with contemporary relevance and power: “He who reads the Prophets as they should be read receives eternally sacred messages from their mouths….Rav Breuer viewed the Neviim as Divinely inspired leaders commissioned by God to assist us in comprehending the enigma of life.” He wrote “The Books of our Prophets are the immortal sources from which flow the Jewish consciousness and Jewish strength in an inexhaustible stream.”
“Rav Breuer saw the works of the Neviim as invaluable aids to understanding the history of the Jewish people within the context of world events. He saw the prophets as the quintessential “interpreters of the guidelines to history and mankind’s growth as laid down in the early pages of the Divine Book,” and could not imagine how it was possible to develop a comprehensive view of Jewish history without a thorough knowledge of the Sifrei HaNeviim. As he once remarked, “How can one understand world history without Yeshayah and how can one understand Yeshayah without world history?”
His shiurim in Tanach were exceptional, abounding with emotion and excitement, in the words of Rav Shimon Schwab זצ”ל.
Rav Breuer was deeply troubled by the fact that most yeshivos neglected the study of Tanach.
Rav Breuer’s grandson once told him his Yeshiva schedule, whereupon the Rav asked him “And when do you learn Tanach?” His grandson responded, “The rebbeim say we should learn it by ourselves.” To which Rav Breuer, displeased, responded “Do you think Tanach is nursery rhymes that you can just read it on your own?!”
In Rav Breuer’s words, “The profound importance and lofty significance of Gemara study cannot be stressed enough. But it is wrongly appplied if this means neglect or even elimination of the vast realm of other Torah areas.” He felt that the study of all aspects of Torah “is an irreplaceable source from which we all, in every age and especially in the youthful stage, may draw an inexhaustible wealth of ideological values which form the eternal reservoir for the strong Yehudi who is proudly conscious of his Divine Judaism.”
He held that while a negative attitude toward Tanach study by Yeshivos was understandable in the past when the ‘Haskalah’ movement threatened tradition and wanted to have Tanach study supercede Gemara learning, nowadays there is no reason for such an attitude.
Rav Breuer always kept a small Tanach on his desk and referred to it often. Every time the Gemara would quote a pasuk from the Tanach, he would look it up (finding it within seconds), and learn almost the whole perek where the pasuk was found.
When Rav Breuer would come to test the bachurim of the Yeshiva who were learning Gemara and mefarshim, his first question would be, “Where is the source in Chumash for the sugya you are learning?”
His grandchildren reported “When we came across a pasuk in the Gemara he would ask us if we knew where the pasuk was. If we answered wrong, he would be very annoyed.”
Let us try to follow the guidance of Rav Breuer here, and thereby, hopefully, gain the very necessary guidance we so need in our difficult times from the pages of the Tanach.
א גוטען מועד, א גוטען שבת, און א גוטען יום טוב
Note: For full sources and info re the above, as well as previous posts based on the Yerushoseinu article, see the complete article by Rabbi Lorch there.