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My work schedule and growing family (stressed wife) hasn't yet provided an opportunity to go learn in a yeshiva or adult learning at night. Getting more serious about learning two years ago, I was inspired to learn Torah at work instead of being tainted by the music I was listening to. A friend introduced me to R' Yossi Mizrahi of DivineInformation.com which led to TorahAnytime.com etc. Easily hundreds of hours listening to shiurim and have enjoyed every moment!

This learning has inspired me to seek out seforim to fill in leisure time during breaks, traveling, and Shabbat. So titles like Daily Dose, Mesillat Yesharim, Sfas Emes Perkei Avos and many others consume my bookshelf. A speck compared to many contributors on M.Y., I'm sure!

But everything must have its balance in life. Think it was R' M. M. Weiss who said, 'with all the tumah readily available today, Hashem had to balance it with Torah just as available online.' So at what point, if at all, does the majority of ones learning online hinder structure and productivity long term? For the laymen, do forums like M.Y. provided a 'sub' of sorts for the chavrusa experience found in yeshivot? I am one who strives to avoid Facebook ultimately for the tumah and illusion of 'relationship'. From a chavrusa standpoint for a layman, can M.Y. and like sites become a replacement for Facebook, resembling similar concerns?

My goal with this question is to develop a healthy perspective and conviction in Avodat Hashem. Please source and provide 'sufficient' translation if applicable. I am 'crawling' with my Hebrew, B'H! lol.

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    Kudos to you on your efforts to study Torah diligently! Regarding studying Torah at work, see this question and its answers. – Fred Dec 10 '15 at 20:06
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Online learning is absolutely a valuable experience. The fact of the matter is, you can find the answer to pretty much any question that you have about Judaism online (and if you can't find it, it's always possible to ask here on Mi Yodeya).

I would say there are two main drawbacks to learning exclusively online:

  1. You may not get the complete picture. Most of the resources available online of a halachic nature tend to lean toward giving the bottom line rather than all of the different opinions. This is limiting because the halacha is often more complicated than the bottom line and individual circumstances can make a difference (see Can I consult Mi Yodeya as I would a rabbi?). This issue is less problematic for hashkafic works like the ones that you mentioned in your question and divrei Torah which do not attempt to inform you on specific halachot.

  2. A drawback that applies to any kind of online learning (contrasted with chavrusa learning) is that you miss out on the standard learning process. Banging your ahead on the table and shouting at your chavrusa are practically rights of passage in the observant Jewish world. From an article that you might find interesting, "In Jewish practice, Torah study often takes on a ritualized role similar to that of prayer." You don't participate in that ritual with online learning like Mi Yodeya.

To conclude, supplementing your learning with online learning opportunities is fantastic! We live in an amazing world where so much Jewish learning is available with the push of a button. I don't know much about what your life is really like, but I would recommend examining it to determine if it is really so busy that you don't have any time for more traditional learning opportunities. It could very well be that you actually have more time than you think if you rearrange your schedule. On the other hand, maybe it's true that you really don't have any free time. In that case, keep up the online learning and work towards eventually freeing up some time for some traditional learning.

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What I'm stating is my own opinion based on my experience. Others may advise otherwise, and you may have a different perspective.

"Online", these days, offers so many options that it is mind boggling. Some ideas, from my perspective:

On line Shiurim - I can't see any issue with live shiurim taught by a notable rav. If it's done via Skype or web-conferencing, etc. it's great and it's as if you were in the room, esp. if you can converse and ask questions. In some ways, it's better esp. if the shiur is distant from you. Rabbi Reiss in Brooklyn webcasts his shiur each M. Shabbat. It is terrific. So, IMO, if you can use that option, good for you.

Chavruta learning - If you have a choice, you're better spending time in the Bet Midrash since you have access to sefarim that you or your chevruta may not have at home, and there may be a rav or someone else who can answer a tough question and / or guide you. However, if you really like your chevruta and you're distant, this serves a good purpose.

The other "stuff" scattered about the web:

Well, there is a wealth of excellent resources. Hebrewbooks and Sefaria are 2 fantastic web resources. I find stuff that I can't locate that easily in a Bet Midrash. It's nice to have it easily available.

Various rabbis place their shiurim online and there are "loose" articles. I subscribe to Rav Mordechai Kamenetzki's "fax homily". OK, I have a slight bias in that he lives near me and I know him well. But even if not, his presentation is very interesting, even if I occasionally disagree or don't "get it". Point is, that you get a lot of good info this way.

Forums such as M.Y. - Hmmm ... I hate to say anything negative, as I may lose some votes, hahaha. You're a bit new, here. M/Y. is a refreshingly different from many other "frum" forums that I've seen, and overall, I have learned a tremendous amount from others, here. I find it either in their direct answers or via the various links posted, here. Granted, you do get some "shmutz" every so often. That's inevitable in a forum. But, eventually, if you hang around long enough, I think you'll find the majority to be good worthwhile material and reference, as I have.

I can't really say much for other forums. You have to weight them out and make your own judgments. Keep an open mind.

Lastly, on a personal level, I only upgraded to a smart phone about 4 months ago. Yes, it has far more junk than I care for. But, I downloaded an app that includes all of Tanach, Gemarah, etc. During my daily subway commute (which sadly, is getting longer each month!) I read Shnayim Mikra Ve'echad Targum. (reading the wekly Torah portino twoce with Taurgum once). So, I'm occupying my commute with Torah and I don't have to shlep several sefarim with me. I'm a Ba'al Kri'ah (Torah reader) and I have a Tikkun app. Wow!! All these years I schlepped a heavy Tikkun on the subway or would have to print a few sheets, then they get lost or crumpled, etc. No more! So, you can certainly see that there's great online stuff that can be downloaded easily.

Overall, as you've figured, be smart about it, use your judgment. I think you can distinguish the good from the "dirt".

  • Thank you. The apps you speak of, specifically the one including Tanach, Gemarrah, etc., what are they called? I, too, try to avoid shlepping sefarim if I can help it. – Re'eh Dec 10 '15 at 19:48
  • I think it's called "OnYourWay Yesod". The only catch is that what I have is in all Hebrew, including the menu. You may be able to figure it out anyway. But, if your Hebrew is almost non-existant and your really struggling, it may take you some time, but, don't rule it out just based on that. Give it a try - you can always uninstall it. (And no, it's not shaimos to uninstall an app.) – DanF Dec 10 '15 at 19:57
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I can't speak to Daf Yomi or to other structured learning programs that just happen to be conducted online. I'm sure there are many good ones. As for Mi.Yodeya, though, I would suggest being really careful about using it as a replacement for a real-life chavrusa, rabbi, and/or mashpia.

Having used this site to get answers to the majority of my (beginner- and intermediate-level) Judaism questions for about four years, I would say the results have been these:

  • I have learned a lot -- a lot -- thanks to a large group of intelligent, knowledgeable, and kind posters here, and their generous contributions of time and attention to my questions. Many of these questions are more than I would have asked my busy IRL contacts. In addition, the breadth of knowledge of the many posters here from different walks of life has been instrumental in getting a well-rounded view of Judaism. I feel confident that my Jewish learning has improved as a result of hanging around here.

  • In addition, the semi-social context can help challenge laziness and motivate more learning.

  • That said, the culture here can be a real problem. There can be a great deal of drama and pettiness on this site. Displays of bad middos are frequent, and it is easy to get sucked in. If you have strength of character and backbone, you will likely be able to avoid it; however, I wouldn't recommend this site for beinonim.

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    You're last pointer is phrased well and makes an excellent point, that I didn't think of. We have some overlap, but you beat me to it. If anything I said about MY is redundant, please inform me, and I shall delete it. Yeyahser Kochacha or Teyashri Kochachech, depending on your gender. – DanF Dec 10 '15 at 19:38
  • Aren't (nearly) all users here beinonim? And nearly all Jews as well? – Double AA Dec 10 '15 at 19:45
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    Very well then, -1. I disagree with your non-recommendation to beinonim. (and this is an opinion post so your opinion is as good as mine, cf meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/a/1446/759) – Double AA Dec 10 '15 at 19:55
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    Why are my comments being deleted without any reason mentioned? – sam Dec 12 '15 at 23:59
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    @sam These deletions reflect the site's current policy on comments. If you disagree, please consider posting an answer here: meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/3799/… – SAH Dec 13 '15 at 11:24

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