Monday, August 10, 2009

Shiur Annoyances

A guest post by JS:

This post has been percolating for a while in my brain, but a particularly annoying shiur this Shabbos brought it to the forefront.

It seems without fail that the longer a person spends in Yeshiva or Kollel the more inept they become at giving a speech/shiur to normal, able-minded adults. Click here to read more I don't think they all take some course or read a book entitled "How to tick off friends and alienate people," but invariably at every single shiur I attend - especially if the speaker is back home for "bein ha'zmanim" and eager to show others what he's learned - I feel like ripping my hair out.

So, for the betterment of yeshiva guys and kollelniks who give speeches and for the benefit of those stuck listening to them, I've identified several highly annoying traits that simply must stop now:

1) Stop saying "chas v'shalom" every time you mention something even remotely bad. You don't need to say "If a person should stub his toe, chas v'shalom" or "If a pen should run out of ink chas v'shalom." It's really not a tragedy. Reserve it for death or serious bodily injury or financial loss, OK? God is really busy and He doesn't have time to prevent this nonsense.

2) Not every single story ever recounted in a gemara or said by a rabbi is "famous." I don't want to ever hear again "There's a famous story in Bava Basra" or "There's a famous story about the Kotzker Rav."

3) Repeating the same point over and over again and using different synonyms each time you tell it doesn't make the point any stronger, more brilliant, or more true. "Hashem created each person to be unique...The Ribbono Shel Olam was boyrei each human being as an individual...The Abisheter, in His wisdom, made each of us to be one of a kind."

4) In the same vein, supporting your point with 50 different rabbinical statements doesn't make your point any stronger, more brilliant, or more true. Saying the gemara says X, and the Chazon ish says X, and Rav Kook says X, and Rav Feinstein says X, and the Shem M'Shmuel says X doesn't tell me anything. It's especially annoying as everyone knows our tradition is built on people quoting each other and recycling old ideas. It's not surprising or enlightening or awe-inspiring that so many rabbis say the same thing - it's to be expected.

5) And again, related to #3 and #4 - don't give a shiur on something that is brain-dead obvious!!! I don't need a shiur on how every person is unique or how it's important to not be superficial. But, PLEASE, if you really have nothing interesting to talk about and must resort to the mind-numbingly obvious, at least don't do #3 and #4 also!!!

6) Don't say in 50 minutes, what could be said in less than 5.

7) Unless your point is solely based in the minutae of halacha and especially if your point is instead philosophical or something that applies universally, chances are the rabbi you're quoting is ripping off a secular, non-Jewish text or the point was made better and more eloquently by a non-Jew. The fact that you don't realize this, shun the secular, and think your rabbi said it first and best is highly annoying.

8) 99% of the time when giving a shiur, it's really unnecessary to refer to the "goyim." It labels you as a bigot, especially when you refer to goyim in an attempt to show how open-minded you are - "I have a really nice neighbor who's a goy..."

9) You're not an expert in science, math, law, architecture, philosophy, history or really anything other than the section of gemara you heard from your rebbe who also wasn't an expert in any of these fields. Don't tell me "Science says..." or "It's well known that Napolean..." - you're wrong and you're insulting my intelligence.

10) Speaking with yiddishisms, over-pronouncing words with a Yiddish accent, etc doesn't make you more frum. It makes you look ridiculous, especially when I know you from before your "transformation."

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