Gemara Education Links

  • Dr. Pinhas Hayman’s structured, or “layered” method of teaching gemara.
  • The Gemara Berura “skills-based” approach to teaching gemara.
  • Finally, an article in Hebrew arguing that the spread of Schottenstein in the Charedi community is evidence of their failure to adequately teach understanding of pshat gemara. The author argues, as I do, that geniuses succeed in black-hat yeshivot only because geniuses are smart enough to overcome the severe deficiencies of RW gemara cirriculum. This leaves the normal folk in the dust.


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7 Responses to Gemara Education Links

  1. fred says:

    from what i can tell from the gemara berura video, it is just a high-tech way of identifying the various parts of a mishna. i was taught this with a pencil back in the day. nothing new there.

    in fact, gemara training is sink or swim. i am not sure there is really a better way.
    and to argue that the methodology for the better part of a millenium is counterproductive strikes me as arrogant, at least a little. no?

    • AIWAC says:


      The present methods of teaching are about a century and a half old, no more. There were many other approaches which were thrown in the dustbin in favor of the yeshivish “lumdos”, just as other methods were replaced before that. Every so often, the method learning changes. There is no kedusha in curriculum. The 19th century Lithanian methods were good for their time and place. It’s time for a change.

  2. fred says:

    we are hardly talking about lomdus, or even curriculum. we are talking about basic literacy and independent reading of the gemara. this aspect of learning/teaching the basics of gemara remains unchanged for a very long time.

    • AIWAC says:

      I was talking about lomdus. As for “basic literacy”, some people need more help to self-start than others. That’s the point – to design a curriculum for people who aren’t savants.

      I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again – teaching methods don’t have kedusha. If there are methods that improve learning – at any level – then I see no reason to reject them just because they’re new.

  3. fred says:

    first off, the gemara brura video you linked to was about basic literacy. a computer is no more of a self-start than a pencil. the gb approach is actually the classic approach, and i can think of no better one for teaching gemara on a rudimentary level. there was nothing new here, outside the bells and whistles.

    before you go after contemporary lomdus and the shades of minor differences between the various methodologies, there is a lot of learning regular old gemara to be done.

    so im not really sure what you are driving at.=

    • AIWAC says:

      I didn’t just link to the gb. Did you read Dr. Hayman’s article?

      My argument is that the preparatory stuff is crucial. Without an initial awareness of the structure, logic and purpose of the gemara, the only thing “good old fashioned” learning without direction does is turn huge numbers of O Jews from ever opening a gemara again.

  4. fred says:

    ok, i read haymans piece. not impressed, and heres why:
    1. i dont think he is correct historically. gemara was not only for the gifted, but for those who wanted to learn it. i know many who learned in pre-ww2 yeshivas who were not iluyim.
    2. there were chevra mishnayos, chevra tehillim, but nach was neglected for a very long time. there was a large contingent of ein yaakov learners.
    3. his evidence is spotty. criticism of the current traditional system of education is few and far between. finding isolated critiques speaks more to the systems acceptance.
    4. ditto his proof about learning tosefta/braisa from the chida and from what the netziv did. i mean, really, is that all you got?
    5. he did not make a really good case for learning tosefta. nor did he make a really good case for learning the history behind mishnas, and gemaras. i suppose it can make the learning more interesting, but it is unnecessary, and not the way learning has been conceived for 1000 years.
    6. i question the veracity of the statement that 70% of yeshiva ketana kids cannot learn independently.
    7.. so basically, we are down to learning large amounts of minshnayos before high school/bar mitzvah. that i can buy.
    having this background would help people learn.

    but gemara is such a problematic subject, i suspect many would be alienated from it regardless.

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