Rabbi Steinsaltz: “Talmud study should be seen as a spiral that continues to rise and develop from time to time.”

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz writes:

The Talmud is not a schematic textbook, but essentially a slice of life.

As such, it commences for no man at the beginning.

When a man begins to study Talmud, he always finds himself right in the middle of things, no matter where he starts.

Only through study and the combination of facts can he arrive at the ability to understand, and, in general, the more he studies the better he understands what he has already studied.

His comprehension grows constantly deeper as he peruses the material over and over again.

A pair of scholars who studied a certain complicated tractate a generation ago perused it forty times and stated that only the forty-first time did they feel that they were beginning to understand it.

This conviction is not a reflection of excessive humility, nor is it related to the complexity of the issue, but is based on the belief that every time a subject is studied it takes on new dimensions for the student.

After the first few perusals of the material, the student will have solved most of the central problems, but new problems will always emerge.

Generally speaking, talmudic study is not restricted to one aspect of a subject, nor is it a closed circle.

Rather, it should be seen as a spiral that continues to rise and develop from time to time.

Each time the same point is passed and a slightly higher point is reached.

–Rabi Adin Steinsaltz

From The Essential Talmud

Comments are closed.