Department Essential Questions:
How does interpretation influence the meaning and purpose of text?
How do we reevaluate long held beliefs in light of new discovery?
How do ancient biblical narratives influence or impact our religious lives today?
How does intentional style choice of author convey religious meaning?
Our Tanakh methodology follows the great modern Orthodox Tanakh scholars of the 20th and 21st centuries – Nechama Leibovitz zt’l, Rabbi Menachem Liebtag, Rabbi Hayyim Angel and many others. As Rabbi Liebtag is known to say, our approach to Tanakh is like that at an Israeli construction site, “Sakana, Kan Bonim”, which means “Danger: We are building here.” We seek for our students to develop a deeply sophisticated approach to our most hallowed book, which is cultivated from 9th through 12th grade.
9th Grade – Shemot and one of the Megillot as determined by the teacher
We start freshman year of Tanakh with an introduction of the roles of Peshat and Midrash as well as working on basic reading skills.
10th Grade – Yonah, Esther and selections from Bamidbar
We take the knowledge and skills from 9th grade and expand it to a greater focus on the literary styles of the texts before introducing our students to philosophical questions.
11th Grade – Bereishit 1 (parts of Shemot and Bamidbar)
Building off of years one and two, we study the biggest question marks in Tanakh study, namely its conflicts with modern science and morality as found in the first chapters in Bereishit, Shemot and Bamidbar.
12th Grade – Bereishit 2
Easing our students into this sophisticated approach to Tanakh, we finish off by studying Biblical Criticism and its Orthodox responses. Particular focus will be on Bereishit 1 and Bereishit 2, the Mabul and the relationship between Yosef and Yehuda.
There will be Bekiut Tanakh in each grade whereby all students will study the breadth of Tanakh and hopefully complete the study of Tanakh during their four years at Shalhevet.
12th Grade - Judaic Elective - Halacha
The purpose of this course is for students to learn what to do and how to do it. While in many ways, the core learning experience is centered around the conceptual ideas offered in Tanakh and Talmud and the question of "why," there is also tremendous value in learning the bottom line: What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to keep Shabbat, kashrut and the chagim? What about medical ethics and halakhot bein adam l'chaveiro? This class is for students who want to learn seriously without the anxiety behind grades. Yes, there will still be grades, but it will be solely based on class presence. Additionally, the purpose of this class is o learn how to navigate a Shulchan Arukh and Mishna Berura so that you will be able to learn these sources independently.
12th Grade - Judaic Elective – Advanced Tefillah Program
Why does tefillah so often fall flat? Why can it feel so dull, so uninspired? All good questions, but perhaps the most important question is this: what are you prepared to do about it? The Advanced Tefillah Program is a serious and selective study group tackling the "what," "how," and "why" of Jewish prayer - an advanced, text-based discovery of what the tefillot mean (biur tefillah), how they should be said (hilchot tefillah), and why we should find them personally meaningful (devykut batefillah). A participant in this program will also emerge with a deeper understanding of the historical genesis and philosophical underpinnings of Jewish prayer, and gain the skills, direction, and platform to create their own prayers and to design personal avenues to spiritual connection.
The new BMC has 2 tracks. The Gemara Track meets twice a week for an hour after school in our Beit Midrash. The track is centered around chavruta learning; students will come in with, or be paired with, a chavruta with which to dive into new, engaging Gemaras along with in-depth commentaries. Each week, we cap our learning with a shiur that ties everything we've been working on together. We learn a mesechta that introduces students to new realms of Torah and halakhic legal theory.
The Tanakh Track operates on an individual, yomi (daily) model. Each day, participants learn, on their own, one perek of Tanakh (which can take as little as 5 minutes, depending on how deeply the student wishes to learn). A platform is provided in which students can share questions, thoughts, and insights with each other as they learn a given chapter. Throughout the week, guided questions are posted to help focus students as they learn each chapter, and, once a week after school, there is a shiur to synthesize all that we've learned throughout the week and to dive more deeply into a given topic or theme. The goal of the Tanakh track is both to bridge bekiut and iyun - learning for breadth and depth, as well as creating consistency in the students' engagement with and excitement for Torah.