At Ma’ayanot, we aim to foster the skills, knowledge, and love of learning that are prerequisites for a lifetime of Talmud study. We focus heavily upon the development of textual and analytical skills, so that our students will be equipped to learn Gemara independently upon graduation. Our primary goals are that our students come to appreciate the glory of the Gemara and the unique intellectual and religious thrill of unraveling a sugya, and that they graduate high school with both the skills and desire to make Gemara study part of their lifelong avodat Hashem.
Our Talmud curriculum is predominantly skills-based. Our ultimate goal is for our students to be able to unlock any page of Gemara on their own. Toward that end, we focus heavily on dictionary skills, the key terms (munachim) that let the learner know what the Gemara is about to do, the common words which appear on virtually every page of Gemara, and most importantly, chavruta learning during which the students work on deciphering the Gemara themselves prior to learning it together as a class.
Students are required to take four years of Talmud. In ninth and tenth grade, we concentrate primarily on building textual skills, while in eleventh and twelfth grades we progress to developing analytical skills, including the analysis of Rishonim. In twelfth grade, our students can opt to take Talmud Seminar, an elective course which offers ten periods a week of Gemara, rather than the usual six. The extra periods are used to engage in complex analysis of the sugyot with Rishonim and Acharonim.
In addition to working on developing skills, we want our students to be knowledgeable and literate regarding the basic facts, background, and history of Torah She’be’al Peh. Thus, each Talmud class is responsible to cover certain points of “Crucial Information,” including when and why the Mishnah was compiled, the chain of Torah She’be’al Peh from the Tannaim down to the Acharonim, the biographical information of any Rishon that is learned, and the like.
We have also instituted a Bekiut program which requires the students to prepare a block of text at home every week. The specific amount of text varies depending on the class, ranging from a few Mishnayot to a daf of Gemara. Seeing large amounts of text builds our students’ reading skills while also increasing their exposure to Talmudic concepts.
Tracking: Talmud classes are tracked throughout all four years. All students can choose to take Talmud Seminar in 12th grade. Talmud electives are offered throughout all four years of high school.
9th Grade: Masekhet Brachot
10th Grade: Masekhet Makkot (1st Chapter)
11th Grade: Masekhet Sanhedrin (8th Chapter)
12th Grade: Masekhet Kiddushin (2nd Chapter)