Or as I sometimes call it "ADHD" learning.

How it works: There isn't necessarily an opening goal in the learning session (it can be just opening a random sefer), or at most there is a starting point, like being initiated by something in particular, like something someone was already learning, or an idea they were thinking about. One starts learning something, then finds a commentary, and then a reference, and then another sefer, and this leads to more of the same, and before an hour is up, one has learned 10 or 20 smaller points - not necessarily connected - from just as many different sources.

This is in stark contrast to what is generally understood as a learning schedule, where each learning session is devoted to one subject or sefer, and is either bekiyus or beiyun, but either way is more focussed and on point. This seems to have more pros and less cons than freeform learning, but that doesn't mean freeform learning doesn't have its own pros (and cons), such as helping one learn when one is tired or unmotivated, or broadening one's general knowledge of Torah etc.

My question is, is there any discussion of this more freeform learning style anywhere? Is it discouraged? Is it encouraged? If the latter, how much time or what percentage of one's learning can be freeform like this? Does this "style" of learning have a more formal name?

Basically, is there any place for this form of learning for a serious Ben Torah, and if so, what are the guidelines for engaging in it?

In today's day and age, with internet, search engines and very integrated Torah websites, it is much easier to engage in this type of learning than ever before, so it would be good to bring sources about it and comment about it.

  • 1
    I recommend that you take a look at R' Elli Fischer's ideas about Abaye and ADHD, which are available online in short and long written forms as well as audio shiur. blogs.timesofisrael.com/on-education-genius-and-adhd , thelehrhaus.com/scholarship/… , yutorah.org/lectures/880377 .
    – Isaac Moses
    Jan 4 at 12:57
  • 1
    I strongly suspect that the only possibly correct answer to how to balance more- and less-structured learning is that it depends on the proclivities of the learner.
    – Isaac Moses
    Jan 4 at 13:07
  • For the better or the worse, this is what I actually happen to do most of the time. Very relevant question, thank you! I have some personal experience and idea about it, if you are interested, but this is not the question if I understood.
    – Binyomin
    Jan 4 at 14:17
  • One of my (other) chavrusahs often quotes someone (I can't recall who) who said that you should follow what you find interesting when learning even if it isn't on topic. He usually tends to quote quite authoritative Rabbonim on things like that, so it may be that you are doing this correctly. I'd argue that gemarah and mishna do this a lot, so you have a good source for it! Jan 4 at 14:20
  • @MosesSupposes he's probably quoting this gemara: sefaria.org/Avodah_Zarah.19a.5. Interpretting it to a style of learning rather than an area of learning would be a chiddush to me, but if someone can prove it, it would be highly relevant
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jan 4 at 14:58


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .