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Published by: outdash2 on Oct 07, 2013
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Yakov NageN
YAKOV NAGEN (GENACK) is Rosh Kollel at Yeshivat Otniel, a hesder yeshivah in theHebron hills. He is the author o several books in Hebrew:
 Nishmat Ha-Mishnah: AWindow to the Inner World o the Mishnah; Water, Creation and Immanence: Sukkot inthe Philosophy o Halakhah
; and
 Awaking to a New Day: Stories and Insights rom Lie
.He has also published numerous articles on Gemara, the philosophy o Halakhah,and Jewish spirituality. A graduate o Yeshiva College, he received semikhah romthe Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, an M. S. rom Yeshiva University’sBernard Revel School o Graduate Studies, and a Ph.D in Jewish philosophy romThe Hebrew University.
The Torah u-Madda Journal (16/2012-13
Scholarship Needs Spirituality,Spirituality Needs Scholarship:Challenges for Emerging Talmudic Methodologies
ne o the most exciting and inuential revelations o my lie hasbeen my encounter with the rich and varied possibilities entailedin “learning Gemara.”
This includes both the process, includ-ing the multiple paths and methodologies o study, as well as the results,the multiaceted orms o understanding or experience that are sought orachieved.R. Yehuda Amital
zz .”l 
, Rosh Yeshivah o Yeshivat Har Etzion, once com-mented that it used to take a generation or a new generation to emerge;now it happens every ew years! This observation is particularly relevant tothe study o Gemara, as we shall see below. Over the last thirty years, I havewitnessed how dynamic and changing the study o Gemara truly is.Along with my enthusiasm or many o the new methods and tech-niques, I have also become increasingly aware o the challenges they pres-ent. I have learned that every new approach has its price. My reservations
1. I will capitalize “the Gemara” when reerring to the total corpus, and will use lowercase and italics when reerring to a specifc textual unit.
The Torah u-Madda Journal 
have sometimes led me to reconsider the value o certain methodologies,but more oten they have encouraged me to a search or ways to overcomethese obstacles and shortcomings, a process that itsel has oten led to new orms o creativity.Many o these new approaches provide opportunities or “spiri-tual” elements in Gemara learning that are absent in the traditional ap-proaches. “Spirituality” in this sense reers to the quest or meaning andpersonal signifcance, and that is how I use the word in the context o thisdiscussion.The frst part o this article is descriptive; it presents the stages o my journey to discover what “learning Gemara” means. I will then pres-ent models or implementing some o the lessons I have learned withinthe ramework o the contemporary 
beit midrash
. I present only whatI know rom personal experience; it is beyond the scope o this articleand my ability to present the totality o the phenomena o the emergingmethodologies. Thus, this section will ocus on how new methods areapplied in Yeshivat Otniel, the
yeshivah where I teach. Finally,I will present an attempt to grapple with some o the problems, pit-alls, and even dangers that may result rom the use or misuse o theseapproaches.My purpose is not to promote the particular methodologies dis-cussed here, nor to debate the merits o these approaches in relationto others.
teach us that “
ein adam lomed Torah ella mi-makomshe-libbo h.aez .
” (
 Avodah Zarah
19a)—a person learns Torah best roma place that his heart desires, and I believe that this concept includesnot only 
one learns but
one learns it. Similarly, the principleo
 yagdil Torah ve-yadi
” (Is. 42:21), o strengthening and gloriyingthe Torah, is ulflled in part by the act that there are so many dierentways to learn. The act that dierent
learn Torah dierently isthereore “
” and not “
.” My goal in this articleis thus primarily to share my own experience and perspective about thepossibility o implementing these methodologies with those who areinclined to learn about them.Since the ideal way to learn about these new approaches is throughexamples, I will cite links to internet materials that serve as illustrationsor ideas discussed here.
Yakov Nagen
encuntrs with th Wrld f Lrnin 
The Methodological Journey 
When I frst began learning Gemara in elementary school, I thought thatthe hallmark o a
was his ability to translate the difcultAramaic words o the Talmud. Some time during high school, I discov-ered the important role o asking questions and seeking answers. The un-damental litmus test o scholarly development thus became what typeso questions are asked and what orms o answers are sought. When Ibegan my studies at Yeshivat Sha‘alvim, I was taught that the goal o study is not only the understanding o a particular Rashi or Tosaot, but thecomprehension o the topic that is presented by the
and discussedby the
. As a student o R. Ahron Soloveichik and R. MichaelRosensweig at Yeshiva University, and later as a student o R. AharonLichtenstein at Yeshivat Har Etzion, I frst encountered the approach thatsought to uncover and analyze the conceptual ideas underlying the topicsdiscussed in the Gemara (“Brisker” analysis).At each o these stages o my learning, I was convinced that the basicmethodological possibilities o how to relate to a
had been ex-hausted, but I was proven wrong time and time again.The next stage in my thinking included two parallel developments.I discovered the approach o philosophical analysis, in which conceptsare not related to in the abstract, but are rather ascribed philosophicalmeaning and signifcance. To truly understand Gemara, one must un-cover the “philosophy o Halakhah.” This drive stems in large part romR. Avraham Yiz.h.ak ha-Kohen Kook’s call or the usion o “Aggadah” andHalakhah.
(In this article, I will generally use the term “
,and not “Aggadah,” as my intent is to reer not only to a particular literary genre, but to the philosophical realm in general.)I soon discovered, however, that this philosophical inquiry is nothighly regarded at some o the institutions in which I had studied, inpart because o ideological and theological issues that these method-ologies present. In a lecture I once heard during H.anukkah, a promi-nent Rosh Yeshivah explained that the dierence between Hellenismand Judaism is that the Greeks asked not only “what,” but also “why.”Another Rosh Yeshivah brought Korah.’s rebellion as an example o thedangers in searching or the philosophy o 
miz .vot 
(based on his under-standing o Rashi’s comment at the beginning o the
). I later
Orot ha-Kodesh
(Jerusalem, 1985), vol. 1, p. 25.

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