Talmud shiurim at Frisch focus on the textual analysis of Sugyot, while using the text as a springboard to analyze global concepts in Shas. Each Sugya is dissected in an effort of gaining a working understanding of the Talmud and its commentaries. Disputes of the Tanna’im, Ammora’im, Rishonim and Achronim are explored in order to discern, not only the substance of the argument but the rationale behind the differing views. Sugyot are followed to their halakhic conclusions in order to clearly demonstrate the process which culminates in normative halakhic practices.
Talmud is taught at Frisch on many different levels, with a series of overlapping and sequential goals. Students are prepared to think critically about the text and ask questions when confronting any Sugya. The Talmudic text and Rishonim are explored with a particular focus on the methodological approach of each. The Talmud faculty develops and utilizes an array of pedagogic methodologies as appropriate for each class, including the creative use of technology. The Talmud faculty aims to instill within its students a love of Torah She-be’al Peh and an appreciation for its beauty and complexity. As the study of Talmud provides access to our treasured Mesorah, the hope is that Frisch students will become the next link in the chain of the oral law.
Senior Year Elective Choices
During their first three years at Frisch, students are exposed to multiple styles of Talmud study each with their own skillset and approach, ranging from the most intricate, in-depth analyses of each Talmudic topic to a faster-paced style aimed at exposing the student to the myriad Talmudic concepts that exist on each page of the Talmud. The senior Talmud electives allow the student to choose a class which style of study most appeals to him or her. Students have the option to learn sugyot in the “Brisker” style, learn an entire tractate in the quicker-paced bekiyut shiur, learn the Talmud and its commentaries with a focus on the normative halachic practices in specific practical areas, or to choose from a more traditional shiur that combines elements of each of these skillsets.
The World of Torts: Studies in Bava Kamma
Bava Kamma deals with the Torah approach to personal liability and property damage. This advanced Talmud course will pursue a sophisticated understanding of these legal issues. Talmud skills will be enhanced through chavruta preparation sessions, our shiur be’iyyun as well as our independent learning bekiyut project. We will analyze the nuances of the Talmudic principles presented in Bava Kamma so we may then apply them to a myriad of modern day scenarios, including pet owners, motorists, construction workers and many others. The role of money and financial responsibilities in society will be examined from a Torah perspective. We will identify the purpose of each line of the Talmud we study, so that we can strengthen the skills needed to become independent learners and thinkers. Careful attention to Rashi’s commentary, and defending him from criticism when necessary, will yield a sharper picture of specific topics and the Talmudic process in general. We will engage in the thought process of many Rishonim as we learn to read their commentaries and appreciate their perspectives.
Masechet Shabbat: The Evolution of Halacha From Conception to Practice
In this course, we will study some of the positive commandments of Shabbat, such as lighting candles and saying Kiddush. Additionally, we will study the 39 prohibited melachot, their biblical sources, how they develop in the Talmud and later commentaries. Finally, we will examine fundamental concepts which underlie the laws of Shabbat. By exploring the talmudic pathways that lead to our current practices, we will arrive at a stronger understanding of our current Shabbat observance. Our learning will be structured around chavruta time where students will strengthen independent learning skills. Students will be expected to participate in class discussions and help guide the learning process. Aside from learning content, this course will also introduce students to resources that can assist them as independent learners.
Mastering a Masechet: Masechet Ta’anit From Beginning to End
This bekiyut course provides students with the strong goal of finishing an entire masechet of Shas. At a brisk pace, students will experience the give and take, logical arguments, stories, anecdotes and challenges of completing an entire masechet. (Currently, the masechet being planned is Masechet Ta’anit). Talmudic skills will be developed by repeated exposure to logical patterns and phrases, analyzing large swaths of material coupled with consistent review. Torah knowledge will also be reinforced with additional insights and perspectives of commentators which will be included to give greater flavor and depth to the material. Time will be spent analyzing and appreciating the aggadata sections of the Talmud to internalize the messages that Chazal wanted us to imbue.
The Brisker Method: A Conceptual Approach to Major Topics in Shas
This Talmud class will be an introduction to lomdus and talmudic methodology. We will be analyzing various pieces of Talmud through the lens of the different Rishonim and Achronim. We will discuss the development of a sugya and what goes into the process of reaching a clear understanding of ambiguities in the Talmud. We will learn to understand the depth and breadth of the Torah by closely reading the statements of commentators and then conceptually categorizing them. The majority of this class will focus on sugyot in Seder Nashim and Nezikin, however, we will explore other sugyot relating to the holidays throughout the year. By distilling the halacha into its most fundamental categories, we attempt to gain access into a deeper understanding of Hashem’s will.
Masechet Shabbat: The Evolution of Halacha From Conception to Practice
This course provides students with a well-rounded background in many major concepts discussed in Masechet Shabbat, particularly those necessary in order to understand modern day application of the laws of Shabbat. In addition to discussing the 39 melachot from both a legal and philosophical perspective, we will also focus on the positive mitzvot of Shabbat, modern halachic scenarios as well as the various topics of interest tangentially discussed in between. Throughout the year, we will focus on key-words, phrases, and figures in Talmudic literature so as to build students’ Talmudic vocabulary, logic, and historical awareness. We will also spend time each week learning both the meaning and melody of the zemirot shel Shabbat, the traditional Shabbat table songs. All of this will be done with an eye towards the ultimate goal of fostering a love for learning and living the Torah and its commandments.
Holidays in the Talmud
Never be caught off guard by the Jewish calendar again, as this course focuses on seasonally appropriate Talmudic passages. Together we will learn topics that provide practical and theological insight into the upcoming holidays. We will have the opportunity to practice Talmud reading skills and prepare divrei Torah for all occasions.
Mastering a Masechet: Masechet Megillah From Begining to End
This course will feature the study of Masechet Megillah in the bekiyut style. We will learn the Talmud at a quicker pace with the goal of finishing and mastering a single volume of the Talmud. While the topic of the Tractate is Purim, each class will heavily focus on the shakla ve’tarya (give and take) style of Talmudic discourse. Additionally, we will emphasize key words and transition statements that appear repeatedly through Talmudic literature. The skills accumulated in this course will enable the students to be better prepared to read the Talmud. Finally, as Masechet Megillah contains large sections of aggadata, we will gain exposure to this often neglected type of Talmudic literature, which, with its rich descriptive moral teachings, is described by scholars as the soul of the Talmud.
Development of Halacha
In this course we will explore a wide variety of halachic topics such as tefillah, berachot, tefillin, Shabbat, chagim. We will explore many different Masechtot, with a focus on the practical halachic portions. We will trace the law from the Talmud to the major Rishonim with a focus on how it manifests itself into practice in the Shulchan Aruch.
Crime and Punishment: Masechet Makkot
This course will focus on developing the proper skill set to engage with any page of the Talmud. While our study will focus on Masechet Makkot, it will serve as a template through which to refine our Talmudic skills so we may continue to learn Talmud for years to come.
Every government needs a system of laws that establishes and preserves order. Masechet Makkot explains the various situations where punishments apply and how they are administered. Accidental murder, the laws of flogging and plotting witnesses are among the various topics discussed in this volume of the Talmud.
In addition to our overall goal to eventually grasp and own a piece of Talmud, we will also focus on the commentaries of Rashi and Tosefot. This will include a study of their style of writing as well as method of analysis and argumentation.