Thursday, January 18, 2007

Revamping The Curriculum

(Image courtesy of the Atlas of Jewish History)

Below is a hypothetical yeshiva curriculum to revamp how Chassidus is learned the Chassidic world. Would you imagine that such curriculum could help expand the focus of learning that may presently exist?


First Stage: A student will learn "the classics" of Chassidus such as Toldos Yaakov Yosef, Degel Machaneh Ephraim, Maggid Devarev L'Yaakov, Me'or Einayim, Kedushas Levi, and Midrash Pinchas.

Second Stage: A student will learn learn the seforim of the rebbeim from his group.

Third Stage: A student will be given exposure to learning the seforim from other Chassidic groups, with a particular emphasis placed on those that might be considered "opposing" groups.


At January 18, 2007 at 8:48:00 AM EST, Blogger Akiva said...

I'd like to say something nice, but the first thought that comes to mind is, 'what planet are you living on?'

Religious identity is one of the survival traits of the yidden. It's indeed been taken just a bit too far in many cases, with many raising their sub-sect as the dominant-primary-key-most valid and denegrating all others. Yet, that's just the tip of what's stood us strong.

Mixed communities are a rare thing, because we wouldn't want to mix! (With the outside world, that is.) So we stay with our own, extremely. Generally that serves us well, the edge condition is the problem.

At January 18, 2007 at 8:52:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aside from sufficient general knowledge of Torah, are any of these areas of knowledge (on some level) prerequisites for the first stage of your curriculum?---

1. History of chassidic movement

2. Basic kabbalistic concepts and terminology of the Ari Zal

3. Concepts of Maharal, Ramchal

At January 18, 2007 at 8:57:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not clear to me whether Akiva regards our super-fragmented status quo (minus the animosity) as good or necessary, or just unavoidable.

Has this status quo has served us so "well" that we're still in Golus?

At January 18, 2007 at 10:06:00 AM EST, Blogger yitz said...

I tend to agree with Bob on both of his points raised here. Also, you might find it a bit touchy for everyone to agree on just what are the "classics" of Chassidus. Is Tanya included? Likkutei Moharan? Noam Elimelech is certainly a classic, why didn't you list it? If you learn the Toldos, do you really need to learn the Degel too? :))
NOW - you might find this strange, but based on the sefarim in their Batei Medrashos, many Chassidic groups already do some of this. Go to a Belz, Bobov, Modzitz, Alexander or similar Beis Medrash & you'll find the sefarim of all the Chassidic groups there. I haven't inspected their sedarim, but I'd venture to say they have familiarity with other groups besides "their own."

At January 18, 2007 at 10:52:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yitz raised a good point about this already being the standard practice in some batei medrashos, but this doesn't always seem to be the case in Satmar and sometimes in Lubavitch. (Correct me if I am wrong since this is just my perception.)

At January 18, 2007 at 10:59:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm no expert, but I think that rather than starting with classics (would we start teaching liturature with Shakespeare, lehavdil?), I would start teaching teh generic student with sforim that give him a good entery level understanding into Toras HaChassidus (Tanya, Meor V'Shemesh, Piacezna, Some Slonimer Sforim - but I'm sure there are many sforim that would fit nicely in this slot that I havent learned or thought of at this moment).

After that, I'd agree that people should get the lay-of-the-land of the early generations (We could call them classics I guess): Some Baal Shem Tov, Maggid & R' Pinchos Koretzer (Toldos is very hard -in my expirience- so I dont know if I would tackle it for everyone), and a lot of Meor Einayim, Kedushas Levi, Noam Elimelech & Degel Machane Efraim.

Some R' Tzoddik, Sfas Emes, Yishmach Moshe, Breslov & Chabad should probably be covered to give the students an idea of the various regional strains.

Then each student should chose a "major" and study that in depth primarily.

BTW, I think they have good ideas here:

At January 18, 2007 at 12:14:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

> 2. Basic kabbalistic concepts and terminology of the Ari Zal

Also include the Rama"k. And to early sforim - don't forget all the sforim of the Mezheritcher Maggid.

Forcing learning sforim of the opposed school is a bad idea. If someone wants to do it - it his his choice. But to make it an obligation is wrong.

Also, I doubt strongly, that it is a standard of many yeshivoys today to include chasidic classics (Talmidey Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid at least) in curriculum. Ennumerate such yeshivoys, and they'll fit on one hand if you'll find any.

At January 18, 2007 at 2:06:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

There are some excellent suggestions here.

To what do you attribute the fact that the seforim from the Talmidei HaBaal Shem Tov and Talmidei HaMaggid are generally not studied across the board?

At January 18, 2007 at 4:53:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

CE: what "good ideas" are you referring to? I looked through the site and didn't see anything much out of the ordinary so far (besides the shiurim on R' Nachman's stories they seem like many other yeshivos)

At January 18, 2007 at 5:24:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

> To what do you attribute the fact that the seforim from the Talmidei HaBaal Shem Tov
> and Talmidei HaMaggid are generally not studied across the board

To a general decline of Chasidus.

At January 18, 2007 at 6:38:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems, ASJ, that your basics in chassidus are geographically connected to your shtetle's region of Volhyn/Podolia . . .
We must move north to Lubavitch, Karlin and Slonim, West to Ger and Kotzk etc etc.
By the way, you map leaves out Mogilev Podolsk -my family's town along the Dniester!
The Ba'al Hatanya spent almost a year there with R' Mendel Horodoker and it later played host to it's own Rebbe from the Chernobyl line . . .

At January 18, 2007 at 7:00:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Mottel: Indeed, I am guilty of what you wrote, but at the same time it is historical fact that this is the birthplace of the movement.

At January 18, 2007 at 9:05:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, my gosh, what are those 400 aveiros?????
Is it an estimate of 400 minutes between negel vasser and shacharis?????? Is he saying that those 400 minutes are devoid of Hodu HaShem and therefore aveiros????

I didn't know where to post this question/comment.


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