The Beit Midrash Track offers a four-year course of study for students motivated to expand their skills and knowledge of Gemara or Tanach beyond the demands of the formal limudei kodesh curriculum. Students have the choice to pursue rigorous and intensive study of Gemara or Tanach in an individualized and fast-paced environment.
In the Gemara Track, Freshmen focus on a blend of bekiut and iyun with an emphasis on critical reading. Students develop the skills necessary to read Gemara, with Rashi and Tosafot, understand key words and transition phrases, learn how to analyze each machloket in the Rishonim, and explore broader topics that arise throughout the Gemara.Sophomores build upon these skills and expand their focus to an in-depth analysis of the classical Rishonim, including the Rosh, Rif, Rambam, Rashba, among others. In addition to appreciating the different style of each commentary, students gain the requisite skills for independent analysis of the Rishonim and learn how to identify the salient point in each argument.As Juniors, students delve into the world of the Achronim and discover how such commentaries tie together entire sugyot, beginning with the Gemara through the machloket Rishonim. Students achieve an appreciation for how they can be a part of the era of the Achronim, as they gain the ability to build their own sugyot through deep analysis of the Gemara and Rishonim.By senior year, students have acquired skills that contribute to their ability to engage in independent research, to write divrei Torah, and construct, organize and present shiurim and chaburot on halachic topics of interest.
In the Tanach Track, freshmen focus on biblical narratives of their choice that fall outside of the Chumash and Nach departments’ curricula. Students engage in close and critical readings, ask questions about the text, decipher nuance, identify themes, analyze characters, examine exegetical interpretations and juxtapose episodes and figures throughout Tanach.
As students’ skills advance, Sophomores focus on Biblical poetry and engage in more sophisticated literary analysis, investigating repetition and ambiguity, as they seek an understanding of that which is depicted in the text, in light of its historical context.
Juniors combine the knowledge gained as freshmen and sophomores, as they probe narrative and poetic texts with philosophical themes. Students explore theological lessons which emerge from challenging Biblical analysis.
By senior year, students direct their own learning as they choose themes of interest for examination and apply the skills developed in the Beit Midrash Track to conduct and present their own research. In each year of the Track, students learn to write papers on Biblical studies and to construct and organize shiurim and chaburot on topics of their choice. As their skills develop, students become more independent in their learning and in their ability to share their knowledge cohesively and comprehensibly with others.
It is the goal of the Beit Midrash Track to inculcate in its graduates a motivation and capacity to assume leadership roles and disseminate Torah on college campuses and in their communities. To that end, students in the Beit Midrash Track are afforded opportunities to meet with leading Talmud and Tanach scholars to learn from their experience and scholarship.