New Article: Kaplan, Integrating Academic Talmudic Scholarship into Israeli Religious Zionist Yeshivas

Kaplan, Lawrence. “Back to Zechariah Frankel and Louis Jacobs? On Integrating Academic Talmudic Scholarship into Israeli Religious Zionist Yeshivas and the Spectre of the Historical Development of the Halakhah.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 14.1 (2015): 89-108.





This paper will discuss three new methods of teaching Talmud that Israeli Religious Zionist Yeshivas have adopted over the past two decades against the backdrop of the hitherto and perhaps still dominant approach to teaching Talmud in these Yeshivas, namely, the classical conceptual, ahistorical, highly abstract “Brisker” approach: (1) a modified Brisker approach; (2) the “Torat Eretz Yisrael,” “the Torah of the Land of Israel” approach; and (3) what I would call the “shiluv” approach, a term that implies forming a new and harmonious whole. What these three approaches have in common is the desire to retain the conceptual analysis of the Brisker approach, but to abandon its strict formalism and combine it with the search for religious meaning and significance. However, while the first two approaches in their search for the religious significance of the text generally eschew the use of the critical methodologies employed by academic Talmudic scholarship, the third approach embraces the use of those methodologies and seeks to integrate them into the world of traditional Talmud study. I will focus on the theological challenges raised by this attempted integration and on how the exponents of the “shiluv” approach have sought to deal with them.