Print This Post Print This Post

Does Torah Study Refine a Person’s Character?

Written by From Daf Yomi Review

A rabbi once visited the illustrious Rabbi Kanievsky, who was called “the Steipler,” and he told him that he was looking for a shidduch for his granddaughter. He asked the Steipler what traits were important to look for in a boy, and the Steipler responded, “Diligence in Torah learning, common sense and good character.” The visitor wondered, “If he is immersed in Torah and has achieved greatness in it, won’t he automatically have good character?”
“Not necessarily,” responded the Steipler. “A student leans on his “shtender” [learning stand] learning Torah diligently in yeshiva for many years. A shtender is a convenient creation. It never asks for help with anything, for example, taking out the garbage or buying something at the grocery, and it never gets angry. There was never a shtender in a bad mood, or a shtender that expected someone to speak kind words of encouragement to it. No shtender has ever gotten sick and required medical treatment…

And suddenly that same student has to begin living with another person, a wife to whom all the above conditions can occur. The suitor therefore has to have good character.”
Once again the rabbi asked, “Doesn’t the Torah refine a person?”
“Certainly,” responded the Steipler. “There are some who had they not learned Torah would be predatory beasts, yet by virtue of their diligent Torah study have escaped wickedness. Yet that does not suffice for them to have good character.

Only if someone works on this, engaging in much study of ethics, constantly examining his spiritual condition, and breaking down his bad traits and lusts, can he become a person of good character” (Mevakshei Torah, Chapter 5, Kovetz 23).

Leave a Comment