Torah Academy of Bergen County

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Chumash

 

Our primary goals for the Chumash curriculum are twofold: First, we teach the skills necessary to grasp and participate in high-level Chumash classes after graduation. Second, we inculcate a love and zeal for Chumash so that students become lifelong devotees of Chumash study.

We follow a four-year cycle in which the sefarim of Bereishit, Shemot, Bamidbar and Devarim are studied, one sefer per year. We believe that students will best learn to respect and enjoy Chumash by studying these four Sefarim. A thematic approach is adopted in most levels, and the commentaries that are studied range from the classic to the contemporary. All classes are expected to study at least four Parshiot a year. An emphasis is placed on distinguishing between p’shat and d’rash and appreciating the beauty and importance of both. An emphasis is also placed on deriving “real-life” lessons from the Chumash as it relates to our lives both as individuals as well as members of Am Yisrael. Such discussions are conducted with an eye towards ongoing events in Medinat Yisrael.

Students on all levels are encouraged to bring both a Torat Chaim Chumash and a full Tanach to class. This enables them to appreciate the styles and different nuances among the classic commentaries to the Chumash, as well as learn to take a “bird’s eye view” of the text, which is frequently necessary to fully appreciate a variety of issues in Chumash.

Students are encouraged to develop their own insights into Chumash and its many commentaries including Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Ramban, Abarbanel, Netziv, Rav Soloveichik, Nechama Leibowitz, and Da’at Mikra. Students are taught to be creative within the framework of mainstream Orthodox beliefs and approaches, while coupling this creativity with a profound respect for Chazal and the classic commentaries. They are also taught to respect the thoughts of their classmates and to develop new insights as part of a group effort. An emphasis is placed on how to present questions and new ideas in a respectful and appropriate manner.

Students learn to appreciate new insights into Chumash that Am Yisrael has revealed in recent decades in light of new geographical and archaeological discoveries. Insights from the Da’at Mikra commentary as well as the Israeli Tanach journal Megadim (Yeshivat Har Etzion) are frequently cited. A topographical map of Eretz Yisrael and its neighbors is an important aid to our studies. Students are exposed to leading figures in contemporary Tanach study as they hear Shiurim from special guest speakers such as Rav Hayyim Angel, Rav David Fohrman and Rav Menachem Leibtag.

Many class levels require students to present “chaburot,” in-class presentations of major topics in Chumash. This allows students to internalize many of the skills that they learn in classroom instruction.