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Monday, April 3, 2006

Rabbi Rietti: Greatness of Being Tested

Rabbi Rietti has been a most engaging speaker at various Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation video tapes we view each Tisha B'Av. His recorded shiur Greatness of Being Tested
discusses topics related to learning from mistakes, being drilled by a coach, and being tested.

After hearing this shiur I am seeking further Torah wisdom regarding which of the two methods of learning might be preferable in various situations, or in the absolute:
  • learning by mistakes
  • learning by training
What Torah wisdom is there regarding which is better?

As the shiur discussed, mistakes in child rearing with relatively low stakes can be easily recovered. Learning by mistakes seems to be appropriate for a new parent learning how to raise children.

Learning open heart surgery without training is surely not recommended; a lot of practice seems appropriate before operating on a live patient. And mistakes are not easily corrected then.

The shiur gave laying out clothing for the next morning by one's bed before going to sleep is a good example of training.

As a general question, with an ideal teacher who can give over a thorough visualization of an abstract problem, is training even necessary? Can one learn by abstract instruction to the same level of proficiency by abstract instruction without ever practicing or having hands-on training?

Surely when it comes to learning to be a professional athlete, some of the training is also exercise and strenghening of muscles, and even learning subtle muscle control, for aiming.

If strength would not be an issue, which is more ideal?

These questions should probably be asked within the framework of at least these two Torah stories.

Moshe Rabbeinu surely had an ideal teacher when learning directly from Hashem on Har Sinai, and this seems to be abstract learning; and apparently there was a difficulty in understanding how to make the menorah.

And furthermore, by the rules of the years of service for the Leviim, there is a comment which explains that they had something like 5 years of in-service training before their actual years of service. I think their service started at age 30, and their training started at age 25.

What other examples from the Torah are there describing these two, or other, types of learning?

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