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I wanted to know what the Seforim for Bnei Torah say about writing notes during a shiur.
Should one listen without writing anything and only later listen to a recorder while writing notes?

  • I admit that it happens to me that I miss part of the lesson while I'm writing the previous things. However, this way I have at least one part of the lesson written, therefore I have a chance to reread it later and to remember something. When the lesson it recorded I rarely find a time to relisten the whole lesson once again. – jutky Oct 21 '14 at 18:40
  • I think it would depend on what the Rabbi who is giving the Shiur wants. – Gershon Gold Oct 21 '14 at 18:41
  • @Gershon he dosent mind. I'm just asking if it kedai. – David Oct 21 '14 at 18:46
  • Rabbi Ahron Lopiansky, when I asked him about when das Torah applies, i.e. when you should consult a rabbi for advice and abide by that advice, said that you only need to do so when things are questionably in the realm of halacha. Otherwise, "wisdom of age" (his words), is sufficient. How to best remember things clearly varies from person to person. I would recommend that you think about the type of learner you are, and for yourself decide what is best. What I used to do was very briefly bullet point what was said, so as not to miss anything, and fill in details I was worried I'd miss after. – Baby Seal Oct 21 '14 at 21:08
  • Comments deleted. Please take long discussions to chat. Further, when it becomes apparent that there is a serious disagreement or misunderstanding brewing, please try to take a step back and ask how you might best proceed. I find that asking for clarification, rather than reacting negatively to what I assume the other meant, works better. I know this is hard and we all miss the mark sometimes, but let's try, ok? Thank you all. – Monica Cellio Oct 22 '14 at 21:39
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I'm unaware of specific halachic rulings or teshuvot regarding this, so this is my observation.

About thirty years ago, when I was in high school, my freshman rebbe would absolutely forbid recording him, and occasionally confiscated anyone bringing a recorder into the shiur. I will explain his thinking, later. I can't say what was done at adult shiurim, as I never really attended them at the time.

My kids recently graduated high school, and I think their yeshiva also did not allow recorders, so I don't think that attitude has changed.

I do see people bringing recorders to adult shiurim. My rav gives a bi-weekly shiur on Sefer Yeshayahu. No one I know brings a recorder, but the rav himself records his own shiur and uploads it to a web site the next day.

My take - I understand why high schools forbid recording, and, furthermore, I think adults attending shiurim should take notes rather than record. I think recorders tend to be used as a crutch to get the material and allows the listener to slack off and even fall asleep. Certainly, this is done often in High Schools, i.e. kids doze off more when they record (they may doze off, anyway, for other reasons) - at least that's what rebbes and principles have found and some have told me this. This is besides other problems that high school kids have been using their recorders for that cause other behavioral problems.

I have also found that even after I recorded a shiur, I had to write notes from the recording, anyway - esp. if I had to study for a test. So, it would have been more efficient had I written the notes in the first place. In summary, I think notes are better than recordings - it encourages better attention during the shiur, and, if you take notes as you're listening, you may write a question that pops up at the time which you'll ask the rav / rebbe then - something, I think is less likely when you passively let your recorder tape everything and you rely on listening to it afterwards. By then, you may not be able to ask your question!

  • Thanks Dan! Why won't I ask the question if I take notes from the recording later? – David Oct 21 '14 at 18:52
  • +1 ....my rebbeim in HS did the same, and I completely agree. – MTL Oct 21 '14 at 19:15
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    @David Just wondering why you thanked Dan for not answering your question - he didn't provide any info from what sefarim for bnei Torah say, and you are quite adamant that you don't care about what just anyone has to say. – Y     e     z Oct 21 '14 at 20:38
  • @YEZ Chochom! He quoted his Rabbiem who I assume are Talmidei Chochomim! – David Oct 21 '14 at 20:42
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    @David Is that a sefer? Or maybe you have some quote from R' Sorotzkin in which "sefer" actually means " a quote from someone who has the title Rabbi" – Y     e     z Oct 21 '14 at 20:46
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In meged givas olam Rabbi Shurkin quotes reb Moshe Feinstein as saying never record a shiur! Learn HOW to listen to a shiur by listening to it live. Whatever you get, you get, and by the next days shiur hopefully your skills to listen to a shiur will have improved and you will grasp more. And so on each day.

But to answer your question, it all depends on you. Are you skilled at shorthand note taking or is it a distraction? There is no one size fits all answer. I wasted many shiurim learning the proper note taking skills, but at the same time developed a skill that helped me keep record of many other shiurim. Is that yotza schar bihefsed or yotza hefsed bischar? Tough call.

  • Thanks! Where can I find this Reb Moshe? – David Oct 21 '14 at 18:55
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    Its in the seffer I mentioned from Rabbi Shurkin, it's full of stories he personally witnessed from the gedolim of the last generation. Great read. I can try to look for it inside soon if you really want to see it inside. – user6591 Oct 21 '14 at 19:07
  • As an aside to this story, I know someone who would take a video camera and record Reb Moshe's shiurim! But his house was burglarized and the box with all the tapes disappeared along with many other items. – user6591 Oct 21 '14 at 19:22
  • Wow! But I guess it's not a sitira to what he said about not recording shiurim because that was for those out of yeshiva. – David Oct 21 '14 at 19:25
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    Well, from the story it seemed more like advice how to learn than an actual psak. – user6591 Oct 21 '14 at 19:31

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