Every Thursday night, we study the Babylonian Talmud, focusing our study on MESEKHET BERAKHOT. We use the Steinsaltz two-page-per-amud vocalized Talmud as our in-class volume, and every regular participant also is given an Artscroll Schottenstein translation volume and a Koren English-translated Steinsaltz volume to maintain and use at home for review of the week’s class and to assist in preparing for the next week. We do not charge for these volumes because all YIOC Judaic Studies classes are taught free of charge, and all materials always are provided free. Our study includes Rashi and Tosafot treatments of the text. After class, we daven Maariv.
The subjects of study, as inhere in the Talmud, are not limited merely to the expected subjects at hand. Thus, even as we predictably study the laws of Blessings by which we Jews recite praise to G-d (brakhot), and we also predictably learn when the night begins for Maariv prayer and the day begins for Shacharit, we also learn the many side-topics that permeate Talmudic discussions. Thus, along the way, we learn about the recital of Kaddish, what it means, why it is recited in Aramaic and not in Hebrew, and why it is so important; the ruins of Jerusalem after the Roman destruction, and so many additional topics. But we keep coming back to blessings: the prayers by which we thank G-d for foods we eat — both the blessings before eating and the grace afterwards — the night prayers, the day prayers, and so much more. Occasionally, when a holiday season is at hand, the subject may shift for a week or two, as the group studies Megillat Esther and commentaries at Purim time, then turns to studying the Haggadah and its commentaries at Pesach time, and even some Rambam at High Holidays season.
Initially, our Talmud Class was open both for men and women. In time, we found that both groups preferred the sociological and plain-social advantages of having a men’s class and a women’s class. So the Talmud Class now is for guys, and we have a parallel class of identical intensity for women on Sundays. The Talmud class, which began three years ago with five original regulars, now has grown exponentially, with people driving in from all over Orange County. Therefore, because of the crowding of our available space, RSVPs now are required each week before attending our Thursday night class. The RSVPs also assure that we have ample volumes on hand for class. It is not required that you know how to read Hebrew to attend and enjoy the class.
Class is Thursday Evenings – 6:30 pm – 7:40 pm
Taught by Rav Fischer (maariv minyan follows)