There have been some developments over the last several weeks which have shifted the way I have seen the study of Talmud and I thought I would share.
The first two came about when Rabbi Aryeh Ben David came to the yeshiva to speak. The first of those two was a minor point. He said that daf yomi is largely just zooming through and not really facing the text and learning it. However, for those who are preparing and giving it, they often do. This was minorly significant as I didn't feel so bad for missing daf yomi most days, except when I'm giving it, which I mainly stopped going to it in the fall. The second huge point he made was to distinguish between academic study of Talmud and the personal study of Talmud. He said that the academic study of Talmud sees its study as being apart from the person, whereas the latter is more of seeing how the person (student) relates to the text. I found this wildly interesting as I have been perceiving it more in terms of the former than the latter, and am trying to see my study of the Talmud in terms of the latter.
A third development has been coming through my class with Professor Elman. Two or three weeks ago, I am not quite sure what realization I had, but it was something along the lines of getting my academic fix there, taking care of it and being able to learn at yeshiva. However, this isn't enough on its own, as they are bound to merge. I think what really did it for me was that there are often various theories bounced around, some of which get debunked, some of which are yet to be debunked, some are merely tentative, etc., encouraging me to just learn.... There will be more on this class, I know.
The last thing is when I saw the varying positions on prayer that I realized if I were in the redactor's position of the Talmud, how would I deal with the contradictory texts? I would figure out some way of resolving it, which is what the redactor did. I then realized that that must be the way - instead of simply being skeptical about the redactor's (or redactors') moves to resolve contradictions, I should try to see it from his/their perspective(s) to gain a better appreciation of what and how they are dealing with the סוגיא (pericope).
Tags: Talmud, Talmud study