Talmud is taught at Frisch on many different levels and with a series of overlapping and sequential goals. The study of Talmud is difficult both in its language and syntax and in the system of logic upon which Sugyot are developed. The Talmud curriculum for each grade and level is designed to meet the needs of the individual group; the students prior experience with Talmudic text, their level of analytic ability, their strengths and weaknesses in textual skills, are all taken into account as the syllabus for that section is created. The Talmud faculty develops and utilizes an array of pedagogic methodologies on the level appropriate for each class, including increasing their use of technology.
The primary goal of Talmud education is to help students begin to gain an appreciation of the Halakhic system, that is, how we get from a Passuk in the Torah, to Mishnah and Gemara, and then on to the final Psak as made normative by Rishonim and Acharonim. A corollary to this appreciation of how Halakhah develops is the ability and a desire to engage in the study of Talmud on a level appropriate to ones ability throughout ones life. We expose students to a broad cross section of Talmud, ranging from Moed to Nezikin, always keeping in mind that what we teach needs to be relevant to their daily liveseven when that relevance is not readily apparent to the student. This year in our study of Bava Kamma it takes little imagination to see the relevance of the Jewish concept of individual responsibility to the causes of the financial crisis.
The development of textual skills, as appropriate for different levels, goes hand in hand with the conceptual element, as we build on the previous years accomplishments and expose our students to progressively deeper understandings of the Gemara. In Grade Nine we focus on basic Gemara reading skills providing the building blocks for independent study and we continue to work on these skills in a spiraling manner each year. Students learn to recognize and understand key words that signal the various steps of the Gemaras analysis. As students begin to understand how a Sugya is structured and to note the textual signals of the various stages, they begin to develop the ability to read the Gemara themselves. Their understanding is then reinforced and deepened during the Shiur. As the students move through high school and as their textual skills develop, they are introduced to more and more commentaries, both those like Rashi and Tosafot which appear on the page of the Gemara and others such as Rosh and Rif.
Each year the Talmud classes work through a major topic in Halakha in order to instill within our students a working knowledge of Halakhic practice which will serve as the basis of their observance throughout their adult lives.