Instead of my cherry picking an example of the value of asking "mah kashe l'Rashi" (see previous post), you can find even better examples randomly from the first Mishna of many masechtot:
1) Rashi on the first Mishna in Kiddushin: “isha nikneis – l’ba’alah”. If not to her husband, to whom would we think this woman is mekudeshet? Mah kashe l’Rashi that required this explanation?
2) First Rashi in Kesubos: “besulah niseis – takanas chachamim hi shetinasei b’revi’i b’shabbos…” Question: Mah kashe l’Rashi? Is the word “revi’i” ambiguous because it can refer to a date as well as a day (though its meaning is clear from the Mishna’s continuation and the dibur hamaschil is not the word revi’i), or is there some reason we would not have understood the Mishna to be a takanah (what else could it be)?
3) First Rashi in Gittin: “ha’mavi – kol chutz la’aretz kari medinas hayam bar m’Bavel”. Question: Mah kashe l’Rashi that prompted his defining medinas hayam as “everywhere” outside Eretz Yisrael – the continuation of the Mishna itself implies that not all places in chutz la’aretz are treated equally. Furthermore, what prompted the mention of Bavel here? Are these two questions related?
Every one of these issues is discussed by rishonim or achronim, but the question that prompted them is simple enough for anyone to ask. Many of the answers are beyond what a boy in mesivta could think of or even understand, but she’eilat chacham chatzi tshuvah! – before getting to answers you have to know how to ask the right questions. Instead of randomly "hocking" away, here is a methodology.
In the comments to the previous post on covering ground vs. learning some wrote that you can’t have iyun without bekiyus. I agree to a certain extent, but I argued that bekiyus can be done independently from a rebbe. The point I am trying to make here is that even without learning anything other than gemara and Rashi a person can ask (and at some point develop answers for) intelligent questions that allow for a deeper appreciation of any sugya.
But these type questions are not asked by R’ Chaim? But it’s not going to lead to asking a stirah in Rambam and coming up with a tzvei dinim sevara? You’re right. But tzvei dinim can’t replace reading Rashi. And when students say over tzvei dinim sevaras because they can parrot their rebbe and know every 2 rambams thrown at them must lead to some Brisker-type conceptual chiluk then iyun has become bekiyus for the sake of saying a shtickel torah, not real havanah.
I am wondering if there are other simple questions that can be re-used over and over and which pay dividends like this – something to watch out for. In writing this up I found that I like the “mah kashe l’Rashi” so much I’m thinking of posting other examples on a more regular basis – we’ll see…