Josh (desh) wrote,

Yeshivat Hadar Week 2 Day 1

So, talmud. Brief and not 100% accurate summary: The mishna is an old Jewish text, written in Hebrew, originally transmitted orally and considered by many to be the "oral torah" parallel to / given with the "written torah" (the first 5 books of the Old Testament). The mishna was codified in the first century CE. It's divided into 6 "orders", each of which have a handful of named "tractates", which have numbered chapters, which in turn have numbered "mishnas", which are about a paragraph long each.

The talmud is a commentary, in Aramaic and Hebrew, on much of the mishna. It was codified several hundred years after the mishna. It follows the structure of the mishna, and is usually referred to by order/tractate/page (though you could follow chapter/mishna breakdowns as well). The non-mishna parts of the talmud are also referred to as "gemara". The mishna and gemara together are the fundamental basis for the rabbinic Judaism that's practiced today; they in some practical ways even supersede the actual torah (since no Jews today understand or follow the practices mentioned in the torah without the lens of all of rabbinic Judaism through which to filter them).

For about 12.5 hours per week (3.5 hours on 3 mornings plus 2 hours on Friday mornings), we're all studying the 8th chapter of tractate Sanhedrin. This chapter is entitled "ben sorer umore", or "the rebellious son". The beginning of the tractate starts with discussions based on the text of Deuteronomy chapter 21 verses 18-21. But we're not starting at the beginning, we're starting in the middle, with "haba b'machteret", literally "[one who] comes in the tunnel"; about a thief whom is caught tunneling into a home and who may or may not end up killed at the hands of the homeowner. This is based on Exodus 22, verses 1-2, and surrounding verses as well. To see this in English, go here and scroll down to MISHNA VIII, but I won't read along with you because I'm strictly forbidden from reading in anything but the original.

Amazingly (or not), gemara every morning is the high point of my day. I love it. The text is legalistic and a code to be decoded. We have enough time to really get into it (and 3.5 hours doesn't even seem like that much when you're done!). The teachings in this particular text are unlikely to have any direct impact on my life, but it's not like I'm in yeshiva to learn particular life skills. I'm here to learn for learning's sake, and to learn the skills involved in the learning itself. All of that is happening, and going rather well at this early stage. And I'm having a blast besides. (Also, at the urging of my chevruta (study partner), I moved up a level in gemara class. We're now in the 2nd, rather than bottom, of the 4 classes. We're both definitely near the bottom of this class skills-wise, but so what? Better to be pushed than be bored, is her theory, and I decided to go along for the ride!)

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