May 17, 2011

Rav Shteinman On Torah, Steak And Ice Cream

A story was just told about Rav Shteinman by his main gabbai and assistant, Rav Shlomo Levenshtein. He spoke at a bar mitzva and related the following incident, in which I find a couple of interesting points:

Rav Shteinman
A yeshiva bochur that was not interested in learning torah went to Rav Shteinman. He asked Rav Shteinman if he would like steak or ice cream.

Rav Shteinman asked what those things are, what the words mean. The boy responded that they are the names of very delicious foods. Rav Shteinman than said no, he would not want those foods.

The young man than said that if he is offering the rav food that everybody considers to be delicious, yet the rav does not want any of it, so "I can also not want to learn Torah even though everybody claims torah is very sweet. So why do they force me to learn torah?"

Rav Shteinman responded that if you would give someone honey and he would put it in his mouth and say it is bitter, it is a sign that this person has sores in his mouth. The same thing with Torah - someone who does not want to learn torah, it means that he has lashon ha'ra in his mouth and therefore has no desire to learn torah. (source: Ladaat)

1. Not just does he not eat steak and ice cream, but he was not even familiar with the words and what they refer to!
2. I wonder if his argument convinced the young man that he should be learning torah. Did it make him realize the problem is within him and motivate him to start learning?


  1. I hope that the story is not literaly true - if Rav Shteinman is really not familar with everyday words such as "Steak" and "Ice Cream", how would he be able to poskin on difficult issues which invlove complex issues.

    I'm sure that the story is not true, but why do people think that it is Kavod to the Toarh to make up (or embalish) stories so that gedolim are made to look like complete Ignoramuses.

  2. >Did it make him realize the problem is within him

    Not likely. More likely it just added on the guilt and served as a poignant reminder of how hopelessly out of touch our so-called leaders are.

  3. Why is R' Shtienmans response better than the boys analogy? He didn't actually refute anything, he just came up with his own question. and to say to the boy that it is sweet, when the boy obviously doesn't think so, isn't helpful anyway.

  4. So the rabbi is ignorant and unresponsive to questions he doesn't like. Tell me something I don't know

  5. So if someone doesn’t like honey, it’s because there are sores in his mouth, but if someone doesn’t like ice cream, it’s because…?

    Someone here is an idiot. For the sake of the Chareidi world, I hope it’s the person who made up the story and not Rav Shteinman.

  6. I've met Rabbi Shteinman and know a little about him. Sorry, but I don't believe that he would talk to someone in the way presented. He's pretty much the sweetest person I've met.
    Charedim know how to make up the most ridiculous stories. (Remember, he's an old Brisker Jew who escaped Europe to Israel. Do you really believe that he doesn't know what steak and ice cream are? B---s---.)

  7. A lot of ignorance comments here regarding Rabbi Shteinman. *IF* its not a made up story and *IF* he did respond this way, its very logical. Torah is all about concepts. It has nothing to do with proportional responses. Here the concept is about something that tastes good. Period. What hinders a person from liking something that taste good? That was what Rabbi Shteinman was addressing. Its silly to say he is ignorant about this or that. Its not part of conceptual thinking. If a rabbi is unfamiliar in a particular area or food, he asks the experts about it. Once understood, he applies Torah *concepts* to it.


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