I taught Talmud for the first time today. It was neat.
There’s this program wherein students from my school (ie baby rabbis) and students from the Conservative Yeshiva go up to Hebrew U once a week to create a sort of a beit midrash for students there–mostly undergrads, largely here on their junior year abroad from an English-speaking country. Each of the rab students, and one person from CY, comes prepared to teach something, and everyone else breaks up into hevrutot (paired learning teams) or small groups. I had a couple of folks, and we did Ervei Pesachim. It was fascinating to see these texts from the perspective of someone who’s newer to them, and in part to realize that I’m not that person anymore. After we finished, I asked one of the guys how it was for him, and he said it was weird, hard for him to wrap his brain around, that it felt contrived. I totally understood, and started babbling about how after a while you enjoy it more like a game, or like surfing the arguments and are less easily bogged down by the details (which isn’t to say that I don’t get bogged, still, on an extremely regular basis) and and and….
It’s funny. I think of myself as a Chumash person or a midrash person, but I’m starting to recognize that I’ve been enjoying this gemara business for quite a long time. Yay for the Jewish books. Yay for the chance to play with them in a whole new way.