Rabbis Teaching Rabbinics: What’s Happening There?

November 18, 2016

Source: Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education, Brandeis University


Over the past couple of years, I have taught second-year rabbinical students at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah the pedagogy of teaching Talmud and other rabbinic texts. This experience has prompted me to ask whether there is any difference between training rabbis and non-rabbis to teach rabbinic texts. What distinct dynamics are present, of which my students should be made aware, when a rabbi teaches a rabbinic text?

In order to explore this question, and as part of a broader theoretical and empirical study of Talmud pedagogy, I recently conducted interviews with several American Talmud and rabbinics educators (of different denominational affiliations) who have taught in rabbinical schools. I asked, “What is different about teaching Talmud pedagogy to future rabbis, as opposed to non-rabbis?” Their responses, presented below, provide useful self-reporting of how they conceptualize their teaching practice in the context of rabbinical school.

Further theoretical and empirical research is necessary in order to clarify the dynamics present when a rabbi teaches rabbinic texts. At this point, nonetheless, it is clear that there these respondents sense that there is something specific and significant occurring when a rabbi teaches rabbinic texts, texts with which they are identified by their professional title. If these respondents are correct, or if we think they should be correct, rabbinical schools will need think harder about how to help their students work in these roles and inhabit the identity of rabbi-teacher.

Read the entire post at the Mandel Center Blog.

Updated: Dec. 08, 2016