Intro to Talmud – Text Sheets from Rabbi Aaron Alexander

Thanks for checking out this work in progress. What you will find below is a series of text sheets designed to help students understand the ‘talmudic mind’.  Which is to say, rabbinic literature is overflowing with creative, thoughtful, and sometimes fantastical methods of interpreting verses of the Torah.  This is my attempt at bringing a few of these principles to light.

Some notes about the sheets and how I use them (though others might use them differently):

1) Each two-sided text sheet is designed to be taught in about 30 minutes.

2) We spend the first 10 minutes reading the verses, talking about them in their own context, and then creatively (read: rabbinic-ly) looking at them to try to find ways to link them together, or draw out general principles. I never let students flip the page. (okay, I try not to.. I really want them to develop the skill of reading verses independently and midrashic-ly without using the second page as a crutch.)

3) We spend 15 minutes on the rabbinic text.  My goal is to make sure that students understand the text structurally, methodologically and conceptually. That is why most of them are pretty short and can stand on their own without too much background information.

4) In the last 5 minutes I try to offer some kind of religious message based on the text, and possibly based on the methodology being taught.

I’ll continue to add more as I create them. It is an ongoing class.  Enjoy!

Special thanks to my friend, colleague and hevruta, Rabbi Ronit Tsadok, for her thoughtful input into each of these source sheets. I’m also very appreciative of the IKAR leadership and community for giving me the venue to explore new ways of teaching rabbinic literature.

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1) Gezeira Shava #1 (similar laws, similar verdicts)  Megilla 23b

2) Gezeira Shava #2   (similar laws, similar verdicts)  Shabbat 96b

3) Kal Ve-Homer #1  (Inference from weak to strong) Berakhot 21a

4) Kal Ve-Homer #2   (Inference from weak to strong) Berakhot 32b

5) Binyan Av #1        (Construction of a General Rule)  M. Makkot 2:2

6) Binyan Av #2       (Construction of a General Rule)  Kiddushin 24a-b

7) Talmud Lomar #1  (But the Torah specifically teaches)  Sifra, Shmini, 9

8) Talmud Lomar #2   (But the Torah specifically teaches)  Keritut 28a

9) Semuchim #1   (Juxtaposition)  Berakhot 32b

10) Semuchim #2   (Juxtaposition)  Ta’anit 26b

11) Ribu’i #1 (Amplification/Superfluous-ness)  Sukkot 46a-b

12) Ribu’i # 2  (Amplification/Superfluous-ness)  Hagiga 12a

13) Kashu K’ra-ei A-ha-dadei  #1   (When Verses Conflict w/ Each Other)  Sotah 13b

14) Kashu K’ra-ei A-ha-dadei  #2   (When Verses Conflict w/ Each Other)  Moed Katan 9b

15) Me’na Hani Milei…Me’Mai?!…Eilah, Me-hakhah! # 1 (From where do we find textual evidence for this ruling?  Really, from there!? Rather, it is from here!)   Berakhot 30a

16) So-and-so Ramei...k’tiv…u-k’tiv… #1  (Intentionally Contrasting Two Contradictory Ideas in a Verse)  Ta’anit 7a

17) K’tiv…u-K’tiv #2  (Intentionally Contrasting Two Contradictory Ideas in a Verse)  Gittin 60b

18) Mashal #1 (The Parable)  Berakhot 32a

19) Mashal #2 (The Parable)  Sotah 21a

20) Midrashic Lists and Their Supporting Verses #1 (5 Ways to Change Your life)  Rosh Hashanah 16b

21) Acrostics (Getting to the world-to-come)  Berakhot 4b

22) Bish’la-ma Eliah (This works well, but does this?) Berakhot 33b

23) Ini? La Kash’ya… (Is this really so?) Hagigah 16a

24) Ein k’tiv…. Eilah….  (It isn’t written this way, rather, this way… therefore it means..) Pesikta De-Rav Kahana, 12

25) Lo Ne’emar…. Eilah….  (It isn’t written this way, rather, this way… therefore it means..) Berakhot 7a

26) Bish’la-ma Eliah (This works well, but does this?) Shabbat 113b-114a

27) Ini? La Kashya… (Is it really  this? Rather, there is no contradiction) Sukkot 28b-29a

28) Ein…..eilah……  (There is no this____, only this_____. Or, This___ is only this____.) Berakhot 5b-6a

29) Ve-EE Amart…. (And if you propose this… how can it be?!)  Shabbat 23a  (Hanukkah Blessings)

30) Mai Dikhtiv? (What in the world does that verse mean?)  Berakhot 23a    (Sins, Fools, and Toilets)

31) ...Mi-bayei Ley!! (But the text should have stated…!!)  Sotah 11a (The Return of Earth, Wind and Fire)

32) …Mi-bayei Ley!! #2 (But the text should have stated…!!)  Shabbat 69b (Want to understand Shabbat? Forget it.)

33) Mena Hani Milei #2 ((From where do we find textual evidence for this ruling?) Bava Metzia 30a (Dignity and Dirty Socks)

34) Talmud Lomar #3  (But the Torah specifically teaches) Yoma 67b (Jewish ritual IS weird)

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