Tal­mud Study in Yeshi­va High Schools

Aharon Licht­en­stein & Yehu­da Bran­des; Jef­frey Saks ed.
  • Review
By – December 9, 2011
Hav­ing read a won­der­ful col­lec­tion of essays sev­er­al years ago in a book, Wis­dom from All My Teach­ers, edit­ed by Saks and pub­lished by ATID, I was primed for a brief but excit­ing point-coun­ter­point by two lead­ing Torah schol­ars on a sub­ject close to my heart: study­ing Tal­mud in a Yeshi­va high school set­ting. Both Rab­bis Licht­en­stein and Bran­des feel pas­sion­ate­ly about their con­flict­ing approach­es to a wor­ri­some con­di­tion — the chal­lenges fac­ing Jew­ish ped­a­gogues in teach­ing Tal­mud to diverse yeshi­va high school stu­dents, with vary­ing intel­lec­tu­al and spir­i­tu­al lev­els of tal­ent, exper­tise, and per­haps even com­mit­ment. Despite rais­ing issues, high­light­ing the chal­lenges, and sug­gest­ing some solu­tions, the book sheds lit­tle new light and nei­ther con­trib­u­tor is sin­gu­lar­ly com­pelling or con­vinc­ing. In the end, I felt as stim­u­lat­ed as a stu­dent in a less-than-thrilling Gemara class start­ing out with the open­ing pas­sage of the Trac­tate Baba Met­zi­ah—Two were fight­ing over a tal­it (prayer shawl). This one said It is mine!” and this one said It is mine.”
William Liss-Levin­son is vice pres­i­dent, chief strat­e­gy & oper­a­tions offi­cer of Cas­tle Con­nol­ly Med­ical Ltd., a con­sumer health research, infor­ma­tion, and pub­lish­ing com­pa­ny. He holds a Ph.D. in edu­ca­tion and is a mem­ber of the board of direc­tors of the Jew­ish Book Council.

Discussion Questions