I'd like to know if the Torah speaks to the idea that of person simply not being a "learning guy".

I don't mean that he doesn't want to learn anything at all (a Jew must koveyah ittim) or that he is a shoteh (mentally deficient to the point of being exempt from mitzvos) or that he does not enjoy doing mitzvos in general or that he has ADD or some other condition that makes it particularly difficult. What I mean is that he does not excel in learning and doesn't particularly enjoy it.

Does the Torah acknowledge such a person? If so what does it say about him? May he simply not try anymore and become a "chessed guy" or something like that?

  • Isn't there an aggadah about a group of people who learned all the time and therefore didn't have to daven and another group who davened all the time and therefore didn't have to learn? Sep 29, 2014 at 17:27
  • Chassidim Harishonim (MS Brachos) spent a minimum of 9 hrs davening
    – R. Mo
    Sep 30, 2014 at 13:53
  • the less you want to learn, the more you need to learn. i've seen it compared to a sick man who does not want to eat
    – ray
    Sep 30, 2014 at 17:55
  • The Torah never discusses a "not learning guy". However, it never discusses a "learning guy either". That is , it never states that the default is that a person must learn all day, although this may be admirable in certain circumstances.
    – mevaqesh
    May 6, 2016 at 19:17

2 Answers 2


At the Shabbos Shuvah Drasha, my rov pointed out that the main requirement is "ameilus" (usually translated as "effort") rather than accomplishment. Some people put in an hour and it would be accounted as "doing more" than other people who spend an entire day at learning. When a person puts in the time that he can and works at it, he gets the schar of that effort. In fact he pointed out that the ease of learning in our time (Art Scroll, electric lights, massive numbers of seforim in the bais medrash) can also lead to a weakness if misused.

It would probably be best to have a chavrusa who can identify and help with the weak points.

There is also the mashal of the merchant (who was a parnas and baal chesed) who wanted to drop his business in order to learn. He was given the analogy of an artilleryman who wanted to "desert" and join the infantry. One should identify one's strengths and weaknesses objectively and speak with someone who can help set up a valid program in the different areas.

This is only a general statement as each person is different and must speak with his rav about what to concentrate on.

There is also the Yissachar and Zevulun partnership method to be considered.

  • While the idea the Rav presented seems popular today, AFAIK it has little support from classic Jewish literature and mostly appeared in relatively recent years.
    – mevaqesh
    Jul 28, 2016 at 9:44
  • The OP asked about the Torah. Your answer does not mention it.
    – mevaqesh
    Jul 28, 2016 at 9:45

A person who basicaly keeps the mitzvos and has an honest job, but doesn't learn Torah, is called an Am Ha'aretz, see Pirkei Avos ch 2 mishna 6 an am ha'aretz can not be a chasid, someone who goes beyond the call of duty. This is contrasted there by a boor, someone who does nothing at all, upon whim it says will never fear sin. There are many ideas in chazzal about an Am Ha'aretz, some like the afforementioned are not so bad, and in fact make him sound like an ok guy, some like the list in Psachim 49b make him sound pretty horrible. I haven't found as of yet someone who clearly explains how we can jump to the extremes about the same am haaretz, but I like to assume it depends on his intentions and abilities as to why he is an am haaretz.

  • Is an am ha'aretz "koveyah ittim" as the OP discussed? Sep 29, 2014 at 17:56
  • @YEZ I thought about that and I would assume so. Otherwise he knows no halachos and will be oiver all issurim like a boor. But it is a valid point.
    – user6591
    Sep 29, 2014 at 18:01
  • You might be right, but there are other ways of knowing halachos. Sep 29, 2014 at 18:05
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    @YEZ I also think society implanted in us a bad taste for the word am haaretz. I mean, that is what the rebbi would say to insult us, right? But it just means average joe.
    – user6591
    Sep 29, 2014 at 18:06
  • @YEZ +1 for that link!
    – user6591
    Sep 29, 2014 at 18:12

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