I understand that the world is very much into learning Gemara via the Brisker method. I was told that Rav Yosef Engel had a different approach to learning Gemara etc. However, I wasn't told how his approach was different.

Therefore, my question is: does anyone know Rav Yosef Engel’s approach to learning Gemara?

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    There is certainly overlap between them. For example, both R. Yosef Engel and R. Chaim Soloveitchik explain the Rambam's view of נבלת עוף טהור the same way; both explain the איסור טריפה according to the Rambam the same way; and both R. Baruch Ber Leibowitz and R. Yosef Engel explain the concept of מתעסק בחלבים ועריות the same way, although they use different terminology
    – wfb
    May 11, 2021 at 20:00
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    One advantage of R. Yosef Engel's seforim is the clarity of his writing; for example, when he quotes a gemara he explains what it means so that even readers who are unfamiliar with it can understand. But in addition, he explains his lomdus more as well, instead of just relying on abstract terminology
    – wfb
    May 11, 2021 at 20:07

1 Answer 1


A good rundown can be found here. Some headlines are as follows:

Though never having studied in traditional yeshivot—being primarily an autodidact he developed a unique Talmudic methodology and was one of the pioneers in what has become known as the Analytical School of Talmudic scholarship...

...Engel was the un-bifurcated consummate gaon who weaved the various streams of Judaic thought into a cohesive picture. He would use agada to explain halakha, halakha to explain agada and bring Talmudic proofs to Kabbalistic concepts1. For him Torah was a singular unite and the divides between sections was artificial. While at first glance the relationship between sections may not be apparent a deeper look—according to Engel—reveals that inherent association...

...While many have the ability to locate the central theme of a Talmudic section, Engel had the ability to see how the seemingly trivial aspects of a Talmudic section were central as well. This was due to his study not only analyzing the section under-discussion but locate the conceptual paradigms that were conveyed in it as they pertain to a general Talmudic clause. Engel did not only know Talmud, he was a master of Talmud and employed the keen ability to manipulate the data and trick out new modes of thought...

One of the central characteristics of Rabbi Yosef Engel’s Halachic methodology is his persistent search for Shoresh HaDin­—the philosophical conceptual roots underlying Halachic ideas. In Engel’s Lekach Tov and Atvan D’Oraytha he analyzed many of the same questions tackled in the Lithuanian analytical academies and he discovered and categorized Halachic axioms and principles that had never previously been identified....

There is a lot more that one can glean from the above-cited website which gives a really good insight into his approach.

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