Posted by: gruvenreuven | September 14, 2010

Computers and Chassidus

My 12 year old is getting a class on “Computers” this year in middle school. Of course he is very excited about it. At dinner last night, he asked me “what were computer classes like when I was his age. “ So after choking on my Falafel ball, I told him we didn’t have personal computers when I was his age. It wasn’t until 1979 during my senior year in High School that I actually got my first computer. A Commodore PET with a whopping 8K of memory! This of course probably made me Chief NERD of the school, as there were only about 3 of us that had them.

I then thought about how I went about learning how to use my computer back then. How I needed to know the interworkings of the computer and how to program in BASIC and Assembly. Back then, you couldn’t just buy an App. You had to develop it yourself, or type it in from source code.

Today my son will learn how to use applications. He will learn how to make tools and the operating system work for him, How to organize, how search, and of course how to effectively use the internet. He will learn about resources at his fingertips. Resources for learning, study and research. In short he will learn how to use a computer in a practical sense. For sure he will not be learning BASIC and certainly not Assembly language!

Being in the middle of 10 days of Awe , I tend to take an accounting of my Judaism. What I have accomplished during the past year, and how best to grow further in my Yiddishkeit. I looked at my daily core study seder. These are the works that I read and study on a daily basis. Today I have been studying Talmud as part of the Daf Yomi cycle for almost 6 years now. I study Rambam’s Mishnah Torah a chapter a day, and have been doing so for 3 years now. I study Chumash with Rashi, Tanya (Chabad Chassidus), Kitzur Likutey Mohran (Breslov Chassidus) and Sichos/Maamars from the Lubavitcher Rebbes (Also Chabad Chassidus).

That’s just my core learning. When I have time or when I need to look up a Halachic (Jewish Law) question, I’ll study from the Shulcah Aruch. I also try to work in a bit of the Mussar (Ethics) classics when I can. Sadly I never have been able to work my way completely though any of them.

Looking a my daily core seder, I see that I’m a bit Top heavy in Chassidus. (The more mystical aspects of Torah.) Like I was when I was a kid studying computers, I am focusing on the interworkings of Judaism. I think I’m not being practical. I think my daily Sichos/Maamar, and Tanya study needs to take a bit of a backseat. I’ve been through the Tanya 5 times, and I’m certainly FAR from being an expert, but I don’t think I’m being practical. I’ll complete the current Tanya cycle on Yud-Tes-Kislev, but will probably not go on for a 6th cycle.

I want to incorporate Kitzur Shulcha Aurach (Code of Jewish Law) in my daily study seder as well as Mussar (ethics) starting with Ohr Yisrael by Rabbi Yisroel Salanter. Yes, I’ll still study Sichos/Maamarim by the Rebbes, but only as a filler to my core daily seder and when I have the time.

Just as my son is learning “Computers” on a practical level, so should I with my Judaism. Not quite sure how this study revelation will go over at my local chabad house (Whose classes/learning are rooted in Chassidus). But after a lot of thought I think my study adjustments will help me grow as a Jew, and as a Mench. That’s NOT to say Chassidus will not get you there. Not at all… Just after all these years deeply entrenched in Chassidus, I think I need a bit more of a gashmius approach.



  1. I’m excited for your new study plan, and I think it’ll go marvelously. This is really well-written, too. A really reflective and forward-thinking post inspired by your son, the method, then, I love!

    It’s funny to think that I was a “Late Comer” to computers in the house — we got one in about 1998, actually. Most people I knew already had them. It was a revolution for me 🙂

  2. Reuven you should check out the Pirchei Shoshanim Shulhan Arukh program. If you want to seriously learn some shulhan Arukh in about 20mins a day it is the way to go.

    Here’s the link:

  3. Mekuba: Yup, that’s the Daf Yomi Schchan Aruch program! This is the Shulcan Aruch calendar I will be following:

    Chaviva: Thanks, you are too kind

  4. Actually I was referring to their actual Shulhan Arukh program which goes through the actual Shulhan Arukh, and analyzes it with Rishonim, and the meforshim. It is a little slower for gaining a wide knowledge of halakha but it is excellent for teaching a person how to actually read the actual Shulhan Arukh and understand the overall halakhic process.

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