Talmud is the primary course in Jewish law at the North Shore Hebrew Academy High School. Students in the main program meet four to five times a week. Advanced Talmudic study is accomplished through participation in our Beit Midrash Program, within which students take double periods of Talmud. It is in Talmud that the students focus on the source, development, and practical applications of Jewish law today. The study of Talmud enables our students to examine - in both depth and breadth - our sacred traditions, our unique culture, and the special role of our people.
The Talmud curriculum is divided into two areas: textual skills and analytical skills. In terms of textual skills students are instructed in basic Aramaic, the language of the Talmud, as well as vocabulary, grammar, syntax, and structure.
The study of Talmud develops analytical and critical thinking skills. Students learn how to evaluate different perspectives by studying all opinions in Talmudic disputes, even those refuted. Students are encouraged to decipher each statement written in the text and extrapolate from that which is not explicit. Classroom debates and chavruta (peer) learning are maximized in the study of Talmud to promote independent thinking. These independent thinking skills are imperative to the cognitive development of our students and apply to all aspects of life.
The ninth grade is taught, perhaps for the first time, a series of lessons which focus on introducing them to the style and substance of the Talmud. Understanding the historical background and personalities quoted therein inspires our students to greater appreciation of this seminal and central work in the history and development of the Jewish people, which forms the background and backbone of all Halachic practice.
As our students advance, in succeeding years, increased emphasis is placed on textual skills, as well as more in-depth learning. Many of our classes attain a comprehensive and deep understanding of the material studied. Classroom discussions reach truly advanced levels. Commentaries from the Rishonim, (1038-1475 CE) as well as later authors are often cited to bring an enhanced appreciation of the many levels of wisdom contained within the timeless words of our holy sages.
The goal of the Talmud department is to produce students who are both capable and interested in continuing Talmud study in Yeshivot in Israel as well as in university thereafter, and for the rest of their lives as active members in the Jewish community.