The brilliance of R’ Chaim Brisker (Soloveitchik)

Rav Chaim Soloveitchik, the Brisker Rav, זצ’’ל

He was a famed Rosh Yeshivah of Volozhin, and a chavrusa of the Rogatchover Gaon, who changed the face of Torah learning. Indeed, the Rav (R’ Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik) said that if not for R’ Chaim’s sophisticated models of analysis, many intelligent Jews would have been lost to academia and the enlightenment. Chochmas HaTorah, the genius of Torah, was embodied in his unique methodology.

So, what do you think R’ Chaim asked a potential student who wanted to learn in Volozhin? It wasn’t like today. A student who wanted to learn in Volozhin was already a known genius and had probably learned all they could from other teachers and Yeshivas. They were coming to Oxford. They knew Shas. They knew how to learn. They were coming to hear the famed Shiurim of R’ Chaim or the Netziv.

R’ Chaim would ask them

If you had a third eye where would you place it

Most of the students would wriggle uncomfortably at the unexpected question and eventually say

I’d put the eye on the back of my head. My eyes see what’s in front of me, but if I put one behind me, I can see what is behind me as well

R’ Chaim replied:

No. You’d put the eye on your finger. That way, you could freely direct your eye in any direction and see everything

I don’t know about you, but I found this answer, and the question most profound!

Author: pitputim

I'm a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia although my views have naught​ to do with my employer. I skylark as the band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel.

4 thoughts on “The brilliance of R’ Chaim Brisker (Soloveitchik)”

  1. I’m sorry but thats all good and fine if it were some sort of camera but highly unpractical for an eye. It’s bad enough trying to not get stuff in the eye when it is placed firmly on the top of your head but try having it on a flexible part of your body, especially your hand where Gd knows what goes there. I would defintly hope it was your right hand so that you can be mekyuam what shulchan aruch says about wiping.

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  2. i don’t believe your point was missed on me, I believe you were trying to show the method of analysis used by the briskers. Probably their system in your eyes was similar to the acceptance program in Google, which it might have been. The difference, however, might have been more pronounced if the question’s answer met with all aspects of reality not just one narrow point. The question didn’t have a qualification “if you had a third eye where would you put it -to see more angles”

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