I've been learning with someone for quite some time, but it just hasn't seem to be working out.

There are too many interruptions, he seems to space out a lot, and not much progress is made with the learning.

Is there any correct way (perhaps through a torah perspective) to break up with the chavrusa?

Would such a situation allow for lying to bring about peace?


6 Answers 6


I think every situation is different depending on the nature of the friendship between the chavrusas and how sensitive the person is. But I will tell you some things that I have seen done:

I had a friend breaking up with a very sensitive chavrusa. He (my friend) happens to be a very funny guy. One day, with as much obviously fake pomp as he could muster, he said to the chavrusa "It's not you - it's me." The humor of the bad cliche broke the tension, and the chavrusa he broke up with actually told me about it with a positive association because of the humor. That worked for him, probably won't work in every situation.

If you are in a situation where you could switch subjects and are comfortable doing so, you could say that you are switching topics and therefore won't be able to continue. If you are worried that he may be willing to switch along with you, you could line up a chavrusa before you tell him. I once had a friend who switched what shiur he was in in order to switch chavrusas. This depends on how flexible you are in your learning material.

When I broke up with chavrusas, I was very straight-forward, although I tried to find things to say that weren't objectively negative about him. I would point out differences in our learning styles or preferences, and perhaps point out that we as a unit were not getting so much done. This worked for me, but I always had very good friendships with my chavrusas.

I had a Rebbe who told me the following account, although you have to have the patience for it - every time his chavrusa would walk out, or fall asleep, or space out or whatever, he opened up a very small masechta (I think his choice was Megillah, but you could pick a smaller one). When he made a siyum, his chavrusa got the message that he needed to shape up.

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    Also, have you talked to the chavrusa about the problems? I'm surprised no one has asked this. You and he have a relationship. If he has expressed that he is not willing to put in the effort to fix these issues, then you are free to break up in the ways suggested here, but if you have never confronted him about them, how is he supposed to know that the behaviors are problematic? I say talk to him first. If he's unable or unwilling to change then you can leave with 'cause'. Maybe the chavrusa will shape up for his next relationship, in which case you would be giving a valuable lesson. Oct 21, 2014 at 20:07
  • @NateDiamond: Good points! Your comment should be moved from the answer to the question. Apr 13, 2017 at 10:23

Definitely a good idea to lay the blame on yourself and not on him as others have been saying as this will always be most comfortable for the other person. I think you could also say that you need a chizzuk and you feel that by trying a new chavrusa it will revive you and be mechazek your learning. Starting something new often gives someone a boost so he may understand this easily.

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    The chizzuk line is a good one. Yasher Koach! Oct 21, 2014 at 17:28

What has worked for me is telling the Chavrusa that my schedule changed and I am unable to continue learning at this time, thereby blaming me and not him, so it does not get personal.

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    Does that work if you want to continue learning at the same time in the same location? Especially if you are in a yeshiva and don't plan on switching yeshivas or cancelling second seder. Oct 21, 2014 at 16:07
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    @YEZ: No it does not work in that situation. However it would work in other situations. If you have a suggestion for that scenario, please post an answer. Oct 21, 2014 at 16:16

I had a daf yomi chavrusa that I no longer wanted to learn with, so I told him I was no longer interested in learning the daf, and I stopped. B.H. there are many other thing to learn.

One time I was learning with someone much older than myself who was admittedly argumentative and had trouble keeping a chavrusa and there was no polite way to dance around the subject so one day I just stood up and said I can't do this anymore, and walked away.

The important thing I find is to occasionally engage your former chavrusa in short Torah discussions so they feel you respect their opinion. This helps the bridge from being burnt to the ground.


In some prominent Yeshivas there is a thing that you can send a Shliach who tell your Chavrusa that for whatever reason your Chavrusa can not learn with you any longer.

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    I hope they figure out how to resolve their own issues by themselves before they get married. Oct 21, 2014 at 18:59

There are too many interruptions, he seems to space out a lot, and not much progress is made with the learning.

Maybe your chavrusa has adult ADHD, like I do. You could do him a big favor if you wanted. Print out and bring him a good adult ADHD screening questionnaire, such as the ASRS-1.1. He can sit down with a pen and fill it in himself, or you can interview him and tick the appropriate boxes. Later, sit down by yourself and score the questionnaire for him. If he scores high, encourage him to visit a psychiatrist for more tests.

If he does turn out to have ADHD, one good and inexpensive medication is called "methylphenidate SR". This may create an instantaneous and miraculous change in him. If he has insurance, he can get something even pricier and better.

If he's an anti-medication type of guy, there are also psychological treatments available; they may cost more than medication does.

If someone has an untreated case of ADHD, getting good treatment can be life-changing. It can be like getting a new pair of glasses to clear brain fog.

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