Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is there an organized path that a Ba'al Teshuva can follow to learn Gemara and prepare the Daf by himself?

I mean after he is able to learn with Artscroll.

share|improve this question
See also: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/299/… –  Isaac Moses Oct 25 '11 at 14:33
rony, welcome to Judaism.SE, and thanks very much for posting your question here! I look forward to seeing you around. –  Isaac Moses Oct 25 '11 at 14:34
Rabbi Simcha Wasserman zt'l (son of Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman Hy'd) answers this dafyomireview.com/article.php?docid=57 –  ray Aug 29 '13 at 21:14
add comment

8 Answers

Sit with Jastrow's Aramaic dictionary and Frank's Practical Talmud Dictionary and look up every word and phrase until you start recognising you've looked this up before. This is the way I did it, but unlike every other person I know I enjoy finding words in the dictionary.

If you have the opportunity then full-time learning in a Yeshivah would obviously be best.

Otherwise, regular learning with a partner (or a group) on the same sort of level as you will keep you making progress and provide motivation to continue. A chavrusa with a patient partner on a higher level will also help correct your inadvertent misconceptions.

Personally, I only felt I was able to learn Gemara competently on my own after two years of full-time Yeshivah, starting from scratch.

Finally, the hashkafah I have been taught discourages exploring Acharonim until you are well able to extract the pshat from the Daf, and even then its far from the focus of your learning.

share|improve this answer
add comment

There is a basic way of analyzing the text that should get you "in" to some degree. Identify every statement in the shakle ve tarye according to one of these seven categories.

  1. Difficulty
  2. Resolution of difficulty.
  3. Disproof
  4. Proof
  5. Question
  6. Answer
  7. Statement.

II. Understand how each move is achieving its goal. E.g. How did the proof achieve its goal.

III.Make sure each move is relating to the next move. E.g. Is the resolution addressing the difficulty.

Always check the language of each statement for the following: Ι. Superfluous language i.e. wordiness. ΙΙ.Repetition of the same concept. ΙΙΙ. Inconsistency in language. Ιν. Is there a chiddush being stated ? (i..e new idea.) ν. Change in language or change in law.

I have a blogsite where I go into detail in these steps of analysis. http://www.howtolearngemara.com

There is a phenomenal set of audio shiurs that go through the following sefarim

Way of the Talmud i.e. Darchei Hatalmud by Rabbi Yitzchak Ways of reason i.e.Derech tevunot by the Ramchal Book of Logic i.e.Sefer Higayon By the Ramchal Book of Rhetoric

Here is the link


share|improve this answer
+1. My ninth-grade rebbe, Rabbi Baruch Rabinowitz, who should be well, taught us to identify KTRM: kasha/terutz/raya/memra, which was a simplified version of the system in this answer (he included IIRC sh'elos as kushyos, and the like, presumably for simplicity). He also made us analyze flow, much as this answer advocates. By the end of ninth or, at most, tenth grade, any of us in the class could open a g'mara we'd never seen before and do a passable job of figuring it out (without ArtScroll!). I owe the man a good deal. –  msh210 Nov 22 '11 at 19:55
add comment

According to Rabbi Pogrow, the following method works to remember what one learns:

  1. Learn the material once. Either through a Shiur, Artscroll, whatever it takes to know Pshat. One should focus on the structure, where are questions, what are answers, which questions do the answers answer, etc. One should also take note of names (who said what).
  2. Review it inside four times. For this one should need only a normal Gemara, because one should already have learned the translations in step one. If one still doesn't remember them, one could look them up. By the end of this session, one should know the Amud.
  3. Spend the same amount of time one learned in Shiur in review of material learned in the past week.
  4. Spend two days out of the week (he suggests Shabbos and Sunday) as review days. On these two days, do not go ahead. Spend that time reviewing ALL the material one has learned in this program.

There are some more tips over there, but this system does work.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Try to do as much as you can on your own, and only look at Artscroll when you can't understand something. Then make sure to read it again in the gemara on its own. This way, you'll be able to get through gemara, and be able to read it without Artscroll. Using a dictionary will probably take too long. If you want to remember the words, you can always write them down from Artscroll's translation.

(Not that there's anything wrong with learning with Artscroll, but you want to be able to view the gemara on it's own, and anyways, Artscroll is kind of long.)

share|improve this answer
add comment

Organized path, eh? I didn't find anything like that. In my experience I found very few systematic guides on how to actually approach sugyos, including all the assumptions of the Gemara, Talmudic logic, etc. The Ramchal has a couple works which have been translated into English (Feldheim), but they are extremely dry and technical, and relate to the component logic rather than overall approach. There is a famous work by Yitzchak Kampanton (Darchei ha-Gemara) in Hebrew, but I did not find a particularly well-defined derech there. Could be I wasn't patient enough to analyse the Hebrew text.

In retrospect, if you have an analytical mind, get this book and learn up your sugyos with that. Ditto to Michael Sandler on the Frank, but I see it more as a reference - Big Blue (the Feldheim) is more streamlined and good for learning the ropes.

I used Soncino before I was competent in the actual Talmudic language in the original, which is good inasmuch as it gives you the words whilst leaving the logic up to you, as opposed to ArtScroll.

My personal advice: hammer away (long-term) until you understand the standard devices of Talmudic argumentation, and understand the framework of your sugya before you set your eyes to any commentaries. If some piece of the framework eludes you, that's okay; but IMO the Gemara speaks to us on its own without commentaries, even if you/I don't understand all of a particular sugya.

share|improve this answer
There are audio shiurs that clearly explain the sefarim you mentioned koltora.com/english.php –  avihu aboud Dec 21 '11 at 23:52
add comment

advice: dont learn on your own you are bound to make mistakes. Chavrusa learning is there to prevent mistakes and also be challeneged. Learning gemorah is less about pshat and more about sharpening your midn to think through Torah lense.

In fact the Gemorah in Makkos states that there is an issur to learn alone. It is disputed what this means and where it applies (e.g. some dont hold of it in Eretz Yisroel as the air there sharpens one's mind) however one who learns alonge is boudn to make mistakes.

Learning with an Artscroll is called b;'chavrusa - except it takes away your training to think.

www.dafyomi.co.il is a good resource they also have quizzes that you can use to test yourself on every daf.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Following a link from idaven.com, there's a website dafyomi.org. They have an audio track in English you can listen to for each daf. Be warned that the quality is not 100%, and the Rabbi may sometimes go a bit fast (especially if you're not from a Yeshiva background), but it's a good way to listen to someone talk about the daf each day, from your computer (you can also download the MP3 files and listen to them at your convenience on your music player).


share|improve this answer
I recommend Rabbi Eli Mansour's because it goes a lot slower and is in my opinion probably more understandable. DAILYGEMARA.COM –  Hacham Gabriel Dec 15 '11 at 23:58
add comment

Once you have the basics down and understand the simple daf, (or even beforehand, depending on the type of learner you are), I find that it is helpful to constantly ask thke question 'why?'

Why did the gemarah start here? Why did the Gemara give 2 answers to this question, is their a flaw in the first answer, or the second, or both? What is the reasoning behind this particular question? If you start to read rishonim, like rashi and tosafos, do the same thing. Are rashi and tosafos arguing? If they are, what is their reasoning? Why did rashi describe something that seems obvious, or use extra words to make what seems like a simple point? (I have been taught that rashi in Particular amongst rishonim was very very careful with every one of his words) why did this rishon say things in this way?

This can take alot of time and cover very little ground, depending on how deeply you want to delve. If you still want to cover ground, you can write down these questions as you learn, and then designate a time, a different time of day, or once a week, or the beginning of your session, where you work on answering one of your questions. I learn by myself often, and I find that this method helps keep my mind sharp while still allowing me to progress through a Gemara.

Hatzlacha to you!

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.