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this is not a personal question per Mi Yodeya Guidelines barring personal questions

In Parshas Bechukosai the פסוק (verse 26:3) says:

אם בחקתי תלכו

If you follow My decrees

Rashi says:

שתהיו עמלים בתורה

That you should be involved in the intensive study of Torah

In Torah learning, the highest value is to learn with Ameilus — with struggle and effort.

Now, many people are affected by ADD or ADHD which can impair a persons ability to focus, think critically and simply stay still. However, with behavior modifications and intense self control and will a person could overcome these difficulties without the use of medicine.

If someone suffers from these conditions and could remedy it with medication, and thereby make focusing easier, would taking medication reduce the reward they get for Ameilus? Should they force themeselves to sit and learn under intense pain and anguish, and continue that way in their learning — all in order to try to get more Ameilus reward?

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    1. I recommend that you consult your rabbi. (Do you have a rabbi?) 2. Why would a person not want to take medication for their ADHD? There are good, inexpensive options available, including long-acting methylphenidate tablets. There are also non-stimulant options, such as atomoxetine (Strattera or generic), for patients for whom stimulants are contraindicated. – unforgettableid May 15 '15 at 10:08
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    The question is more theory. And it's not a personal question: that is not allowed on Mi Yodeya. – Shoel U'Meishiv May 15 '15 at 10:09
  • People do ask personal questions on Mi Yodeya, even though they're not allowed. :) But if yours is theoretical, that's fine. What inspired your question? – unforgettableid May 15 '15 at 10:11
  • Oh. I just read your question more carefully, and now I understand it. Never mind. – unforgettableid May 15 '15 at 10:17
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    Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/31303. This involves the same principle as in the other question, namely that ameilus does not imply that you need to burden yourself with inefficiencies. There's a story from the 1930's: Canadian politician William Aberhart observed construction workers digging with shovels and picks. He asked them why they weren't using heavy machinery, which would increase efficiency and productivity. When he was told that this method allowed for the hiring of more laborers, he replied that the workers should dig with spoons, then, to create even more work. – Fred May 15 '15 at 17:27
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Medication helps an ADHD patient just like glasses help a nearsighted patient. (I don't remember where I first saw this metaphor. Probably it was while reading My Brain Still Needs Glasses.)

Should a nearsighted individual remove his glasses so as to make Torah study more difficult and so as to increase his eventual reward? No. He should wear his glasses, and should increase his Ameilus in other ways.

Should an individual with ADHD throw away his medication so as to make Torah study more difficult? No. He should take his medication according to his doctor's directions. Now, if he tries hard and puts in his maximum effort, he can reach new heights of Torah study — heights he wouldn't ever have been able to reach at all without medication.

Edit: And if he's never taken medication before, he should ask a doctor whether or not he should start taking medication now. Most ADHD patients can benefit from medication.

  • Thank you. my question is regarding someone who hasn't started taking meds yet. Obviously if a Dr tells you to take a medication there one should not unilaterally stop taking them – Shoel U'Meishiv May 15 '15 at 10:31

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