Monday, November 24, 2008

Finally! They should buy *this* for Bar Mitzvah boys!

Today I discovered a book entitled The Oral Law by H. Chaim Schimmel. He begins his work by stating:
    Were all the laws of the Oral Torah of Sinaitic origin? If so, how did disputes arise? Why and how are certain laws deduced by the Sages from scripture? And what was the practice before such laws had been so deduced? To what extend did the Sages enjoy legislative powers. Why are Rabbinic laws binding? When was the text of the Mishnah first settled? And previous to that, how has the law been stated?

    This book written by an amateur for amateurs is an attempt to answer some of these problems. I have found that many Yeshivah students, or former Yeshivah students like myself, are puzzled by these problems and they baffle even some Talmudic scholars. I have not made a critical study of the whole subject, but I have attempted to find an answer to these questions in the classical Jewish Literature and in the writings of recognised Rabbinical Authorities.

Yes, yes, yes, and yes! This book should be added to the collection of those about which we ask...why did they never teach us this in high school?!

God bless you, Mr. Schimmel!


Anonymous said...
you might find this series of interest. imho it is not taught this way so that the vast majority will not ask questions whose answers are "muanced"
Joel Rich

BrooklynWolf said...

With a build up like that... :)

And, Joel, thanks for the link. I definitely have something to listen to and read now. :)

The Wolf

Ezzie said...

Dunno, sounds like the standard intro to Torah SheBa'al Peh in school, no? I guess not all schools actually do this? Nevertheless, still sounds like it could be a really interesting book.

Anonymous said...

sorry disagree with you on this one this may turn the young mind of a child off i know people it has done
any case chana will talk later gn bbl

Ben Rosenfeld

AK said...

Yesod shel limud,
the book is written for the curious minds . Get it?

Anonymous said...

There's a very good book published long ago by Feldheim that shares the same aim - The Dynamics of Dispute by Rabbi Zvi Lampel. It may be difficult to get ahold of, though.

Anonymous said...

in my high school it is taught, by friends who ask the same question (why dont they teach it in high school?)!
based on an adult education course by the jewish learning institute called from sinai to cyberspace.

Anonymous said...

Ak listen to me now if we were to get a book which asks very in depth Question like why were the words of the wise sages Binding these are the kind of Question that a child asks of anger and frustration as opposed to love and curiosity it will at that point turn a child off and than a lot of the good concepts get turned out
i hope hear my point have gn bw tlbb

Ben Rosenfeld

Chana said...

No, a child asks those questions out of a desire to learn, out of a desire to become close to God; it should not turn anyone off.

Anonymous said...

Chana and YSL,
some ask for each reason-leadership has to decide how to deal with the questions in a group setting understanding that any approach will have karbanot. minimization based on prioritization takes place either conciously or by default.

BW-see my regular audio roundup postings on hirhurim
Joel Rich

G said...

I see someone already Dynamics of Dispute so I will simply add my recommendation as well.

Gil Student said...

I've seen the old version of this book in the library and I personally found these two books to be better (pardon the repetition of one of these titles):

The Dynamics of Dispute: The Makings of Machlokess in Talmudic Times by R. Zvi Lampel

The Students' Guide Through the Talmud by R. Zevi Hirsch Chajes

moshe said...

Did I miss something? This sounds like straight out of the Rambam's introduction to mishnayot.

Yosef said...

Dynamics of Dispute is available both in the Gottesman Library at YU and the Rubin shul library.

I read it a few years back and thought it was a great book!

Anonymous said...

i wholeheartedly agree with anonymous chana as nice as we want to say the innocent minded child would ask a question like such it isn't so simple
a question so strong as why the sages are so binding at times could be taken like oh this is so hard why is it so binding out of frustration and poor emotion one must be careful in this book well thank enjoy night bn talk later be well and all the best bye for now b

Ben Rosenfeld

Anonymous said...


Sorry to disagree, but I think you're going about this all wrong. Why would you want high school kids to read a book 'by an amateur.' That's like telling someone to convert to Judaism entirely based on wikipedia articles. Don't get me wrong, wikipedia is an incredible resource, but it's main use should be for subject in which the user knows quite a bit about but engages wiki content for a refresher, or for publicly iconic content such as a life/times of an actor/performer. What high schools need is a not a simple book, or even an ask the rabbi session for difficult questsions. We must revamp the educational system such that halakha and gemara are taught not as pristine or only divine (un-human), but along side their historical narratives. We cannot allow high school gemara 'rebbes' to lose sight of the humanity in halakha or the historical development of the halakhic corpus as they introduce our Jewish future to our Jewish past. I reject all of the books mentioned in this post and comments and say read our real texts and think!

David_on_the_Lake said...

The introduction to Shiurei Daas (Telz) deals with this extensively..

Anonymous said...

Anoynomous thank you well done congratulations well said thanks have a great night all looking post future post bye all be well all the best tlb

Ben Rosenfeld

rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Yes, this is a major, under-adressed issue.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Rav Chana i await eagerly your next post of debate fun as you know it is enjoy day bn bw tl atb bb

Ben Rosenfeld