Archive for November, 2011


Just like the idea of Chovevei has grown out of a specific need, the mission of YCT struck a cord with a unique set of students. The students applying to our rabbinical school feel a calling to serve. They are caring and learned, each a leader in his own way. They are our centerpiece, wishing to change the very face of the Jewish community and world. So refreshing is YCT’s approach that many of our trainees would not be in any rabbinical school were it not for Chovevei.

Rabbi Avi Weiss, “A Message from Our Founder and President,” Fourth Annual Gala (New York: Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, 2007), 13.

The Rabbis drew their information from personal conversations with philosophers and other intelligent people. The Talmuds and the Midrashim frequently mention such intercourse between the Rabbis and men whom they styled “philosophers.”. It is reasonable to assume that there were many learned Jews among the upper classes of Jewish Palestine who communicated some of the Greek doctrines to the Rabbis.

Saul Lieberman, “How Much Greek in Jewish Palestine?” in Biblical and Other Studies, ed. A. Altmann (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1962), 131.

The book by which Jewish society and Jewish practice and Jewish culture is guided is ultimately the Talmud Bavli. Whether you study the Talmud Bavli directly or you just observe shabbas because everybody else observes shabbas, the source of all of that is where? The Talmud Bavli – the Talmud Bavli was written in Persia. If such a work was written in America, we’d spend years analyzing how America influenced that work….
But nobody really talks about how Persia influenced that work. How did Persian culture influence the Babylonian Talmud and how did Persian religion influence the Babylonian Talmud?

Rabbi Adam Mintz, “Did Persian Culture Influence the Babylonian Talmud?” (25 January 2011).

Much of the discursive material that was circulating for a while in a non-redactive state was forgotten during the interval; what remained was in a precarious state. The Stammaim reclaimed it, complementing and integrating it. The luxurious and flowing texture of the Talmud is the achievement of the Stammaim; prior to them there were only short dialogues and comments strung along the Mishnah and Braithoth.

David Weiss Halivni, Midrash, Mishnah, and Gemara: The Jewish Predilection for Justified Law (Camridge, MA & London, UK: Harvard University Press, 1986), 79.