Research Fellowships – Talmud Skills

Talmud Skills Project

Daniel Reifman has been teaching intermediate and advanced Talmud classes with a distinctive approach to skill-building for nearly 15 years. His Talmud Skills class at Pardes has become popular among students looking to develop independence in Talmud study. Students have frequently requested a way to continue using his methodology beyond the framework of the course, both for continued study and for teaching their own students.

The Talmud Skills curriculum will incorporate elements relevant to a range of skill levels. A preliminary outline of curriculum is as follows:

  1. Tools for parsing the Talmud text and structuring talmudic discussions
  2. Functional categories of common structural terms in halakhic sugyot
  3. Use of charts and other visual tools for teaching and studying Talmud
  4. Interpretive assumptions and techniques in midrash halakhah in the Bavli
  5. Tools for parsing and structuring Tosafot and other rishonim

What distinguishes this approach from that of other Talmud curricula is the focus on systematic structural elements rather than on content. The Talmud Skills Project will lay out discrete sets of techniques for reading gemara and rishonim that can be used regardless of the specific material being studied. Similarly, the advantage of the charts and visual tools in §3 is that their underlying structure allows the teacher to adapt them to a very wide range of content.

This past year, the Talmud Skills project has taken the form of individual sheets or pamphlets, each outlining a particular technique or skill set. These are geared for use by students, and are designed to demonstrate how specific techniques and skills can be used productively at different skill levels (e.g., using the same chart for mapping out mishnayot, sugiyot and rishonim). Next year, we will continue this phase of the project, with the hope that by the end of the year the pamphlets we will be able to start combining individual pamphlets into a larger and more comprehensive guide.

Skills of Talmud Skills Research Fellow

  • Writing/editing skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • 3-4 years experience studying Talmud (Pardes level hey or Kollel)
  • Some teaching experience – preferable

Specific Fellowship Requirements

  • 6 hours/week (2-5 PM, days TBD) – most of the work would be completed in the Pardes Beit Midrash
  • Weekly meeting with the faculty advisor
  • Participation in Talmud Skills course (currently Sun. & Thurs., 11:50-13:00)

All fellows will receive a guaranteed living expense grant ranging from $300-$500/month (exact amount determined by financial need) AND receive highly subsidized Year Program tuition: $3,000 discount for those not eligible for Masa Israel Journey funding, and $2,000 discount for those eligible for Masa funding.

A letter of recommendation from a supervisor who can speak to the candidate’s relevant community experience and potential growth and contributions through the fellowship is required. This may be one of the two letters of recommendation required for the YP application, or an additional recommendation. The letter must be submitted along with the Fellowship Application and the Pardes Year Program application.