Re: Why learn Gemara?
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Re: Why learn Gemara?

October 24, 2010 09:36AM
Regarding why to learn Talmud, Rabbi Yitzchak Twersky ob"m writes in his introduction to his teacher Harry Wolfson's biography called "Wolfson of Harvard" that Professor Wolfson maintained it was difficult to attain expertise in many subjects without a strong background in the study of Talmud.

A parent of a student in our school who is an orchestra conductor told her that he understands classical music more deeply because of his having studied Talmud when he was younger. If one properly studies Talmud in depth then these types of universally applicable insights can possibly be made and the value of Talmud study becomes self evident.

I think it is important to become a Lamdan even more than it is important to study Talmud as they are not always one and the same. Fluency in Aramaic and medieval Hebrew used by Rishonim is only half the battle. That only relates to deciphering the bdieved written down form of Oral Torah printed in books.

The other half of Talmud study is the abstract thinking that can be developed by studying with a master pedagogue who can impart analytic skills and utilize the main chakiros needed to ask probing questions in order to help a student become a deep and rigorous critical thinker who can propose both novel and true solutions to classical Talmudic problems.

Once we help students escape the illness of superficiality plaguing our generation by learning how to think deeply, Judaism and the world may become deeper, more sophisticated, and hopefully more meaningful to them. The sad part is many kids give up before reaching this second half of Talmud because they think they are not cut out for the first half of Talmud or they deem the whole subject as superficial and irrelevant.

Shalom,

Elisha Paul
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