Rav Avigdor Miller on Tanach In The Yeshiva



Why isn’t the study of Tanach stressed in the yeshivos?


The answer is that today we’re less organized than we used to be.  In the days of old everybody first studied Torah; the entire Torah.  Then they studied Nevi’im and they studied Kesuvim. And we find in the Gemara that even the Sages used to come together—the greatest chachmei hatanaim—and study Tanach together. They called it pirka.  It says when Rav was in the yeshivah of Rebbe, Rabi Yehudah Hanasi, so because he was the youngest one they gave him the function of reading aloud the possuk.  He used to read the possuk aloud and all the chachamim gave their comments.  Then someone came in late so Rav had to start from the beginning again.  It’s a whole story there.  But whatever it is we see that was the practice – they studied Tanach.  In the yeshiva of these great men they studied Tanach.  Certainly it’s a valuable study.

But over the course of time, we became disorganized. And now, especially in America, we don’t have enough time for everything. Now, if they would throw out from the mesivtas all limudei chol—which they’re not able to do because of the state requirements—if you could get rid of limudei chol, you would have time for Tanach. But as it is now, we don’t even have enough time for gemara.  Gemara is a subject that requires a great deal of study, a great deal of time.

However, if you want to appreciate the quality of the devar Hashem and learn some of the secrets of the darkei Hashem, it’s imperative to know Tanach. And therefore it’s recommended for people who are looking for shleimus.

However, it does not make you a lamdan.  A lamdan must put in whatever time he has in learning gemara and mefarshim; but if he wants a perfection of character and perfection of mind, it’s essential to learn Tanach.

Now, I would recommend even if you have no time, at least to read the Tanach in English. At least once.  Get an idea of what happened.  You won’t understand anything but at least know what happened in the days of Yehoshua, what happened in the days of the Shoftim.  All of that glorious era should be a blank in your mind?!  What happened in the days of Shaul and Dovid Hamelech and Shlomo Hamelech and all the kings of Malchus Beis Dovid?  What happened to the Aseres Hashevatim?

And even Tehillim.  And Iyov too. You never learned Iyov even once?  Mishlei! Whole treasure troves of wisdom! And even though if you read it in translation you won’t understand many things, it’s better than not having the slightest contact with this great heritage of our past.

By all means, Tanach is very important, and every ambitious person should have in mind that someday he’ll study Tanach.

TAPE # 729 (March 1989)