28 November 2005

A Little About Drew & Talmud Study

Today, during Modern Orthodoxy class, we were discussing, among other things, the academic study of Talmud. One point in particular struck me in the course of discussion: that of the controversy in Israel about those wanting to introduce it into their curriculums in high schools and those who have reacted against it. A reason to which those who are for the implementation of this method of study is that it may help students get more into learning Talmud. Especially as we are more historically-minded today. I thought that sounds nice, but it sounds rather abstract on the whole - and for those who don't really understand this benefit, it may seem empty. However, since my introduction to this method of study last year (in a three-pronged way: via my gemarra rebbe a little bit, via discussions with my roommate who was going for his masters in Talmud, and through reading a few articles here and there), I began to grow an affinity for the study of Talmud last year. While it continues a little bit this year, unfortunately for my studying of gemarra, we are primarily focusing on Tosafos this year - I might say that we are only learning the gemarra in order to learn the Tosafos (if one really knows about what I'm typing, it can sound kind of funny).
When I studied in Ohr Somayach, no attention was paid to when these various sages lived nor anything about the editorial layer of the gemarra, and very little was paid to the environment in which the sages of the Talmud were living. I also found it boring to learn Talmud, but something of a necessity as an Orthodox Jew. However, since my coming to YCT, my interest in the study of the Talmud has skyrocketed - it was really revolutionary as to how I approached the text. Judaism was no longer something so staid, but rather something more dynamic, and the development of normative rabbinic Judaism was unfolding before one's eyes on the pages of the Talmud - surely something of interest.
When I think about this method of study, I cannot help but want to promote it, especially to high school kids, who probably don't give half of a rat's tail about learning gemarra, as I think it would pique their interest in learning about their own heritage.


Tim Lieder said...

I learned Talmud by going to Daf Yomi classes which was a plunge into the deep end of the pool - but one thing about it is that I learned whatever was on the daf and not the "safe" pages. And Kethuvot is a wild wild tractate - I've heard similar discussions on Howard Stern.

Of course now I'm going to start using Daf Yomi as a way of familiarizing myself with all the terms that Yosef keeps telling me that I need to memorize when I study with him once a week (Tractate Megillah)

By the way - check out http://www.livejournal.com/~dafyomi - I inspired it, but didn't start it.

Drew_Kaplan said...

I'm glad you've been getting into studying Talmud - that's great.

A big thing of my posting was to discuss academic approaches to the study of Talmud and layering. However, I assume that Yosef does not employ such a method in his study. I may be posting again about this subject.

Tim Lieder said...

No. It's more basic, but I tend to try to push the approach into your realm of expertise.