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Having never gone to a yeshiva, but having interacted with rabbis and laymen who have, I am unclear on which Jewish texts are studied and which are either not, or which are given a more cursory overview. I realize that this surely varies from one school to another, but I would appreciate it people would answer what is commonly studied at "standard Orthodox yeshivas", places like Lakewood, Telz, Mir, REITS, etc.

For instance, I would assume they study major tractates like Brachot, Avot, Bava Metzia, etc, but what about more obscure tractates like Ma'aserot or Ma'aser Sheni? Do they study midrash like Bereshit Rabbah, Vayikrah Rabbah, Pirke d'Rabbi Eliezer, or Avot d'Rabbi Natan? Do they spend more time on original sources like the Talmud tractates, or on medieval compendiums like Mishneh Torah and Shulchan Aruch? Do they give much time to mussar works like the Chofetz Chaim? Aside from all this later writing, to they allot any time to study Navi (the biblical prophets)?

  • Elchanan: Do you mean RIETS? (I've never heard it called "Elchanan". Note that that was the eponymous rabbi's middle name.) – msh210 Aug 17 '15 at 13:57
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    The accepted answer to this question lists the main talmudic tractates studied. Also see Wikipedia Yeshiva. – Avrohom Yitzchok Aug 17 '15 at 16:19
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    "Yeshiva" is a generic term. Please narrow down your scope to a grade level, if possible. Do you mean, elementary (through 8th grade), high school, or college / kolel? – DanF Aug 17 '15 at 16:34
  • related - judaism.stackexchange.com/q/15139/5275 – DanF Aug 17 '15 at 17:39
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    @user613 You may want to post this as an answer. This is an interesting cycle. Would you or someone else know why these masechtot are chosen and why in this order? – DanF Aug 18 '15 at 15:31
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In Yeshivat Chachmei Lublin by Dovid Avraham Mandelbaum p. 322 we are given the daily schedule of the yeshiva, from which we can see what texts were studied:

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My English rendering:

  • 6:00 AM – Wakeup
  • 7:30 AM – Morning Prayer
  • 8:45 AM – Lecture on the Rif in order
  • 9:15 AM – Breakfast/break
  • 10:00 AM – Review of the lectures
  • 11:45 AM – Lecture in Mikvaot on Sun/Mon/Tues; Zevachim (Gemara with Tosafot) on Wed/Thurs
  • 1:30 PM – Lunch; on Mon/Thurs Sha'arei Teshuvah
  • 2:45 PM – Break
  • 3:00 PM – Review of previous years' studies
  • 4:00 PM – Afternoon Prayer and Psalms
  • 4:30 PM – Lecture in Daf Yomi
  • 5:30 PM – Evening Prayers
  • 6:00 PM – Talmud study according to the division; review of the lectures
  • 9:00 PM – Dinner
  • 9:30 PM – Review of the Rif in order
  • 10:00 PM – Writing down Torah novellae (either the student's or the teacher's

From here we can see that there was no formal study of Tanach or Midrash. The only formal study of halacha was via the Rif. Twice a week they studied mussar. They learned through the entire Talmud (over the course of several years).

We also have the curriculum of Volozhin submitted to the superintendent of education in 1858:

Lithuanian Yeshivas of the Nineteenth Century p. 195

Year 1

Bible: Pentateuch and early prophets, with Rashi's commentary and the Biur

Mishnah: orders Zera'im, Mo'ed, and Nashim

Talmud: tractates Berakhot, Shabat, Pesahim, and Eruvin, with the commentary of the Rosh

Jewish law: Shulhan arukh, 'Orah hayim'

Hebrew grammar: the first two parts of Ben-Ze'ev's Talmud leshon ever

Languages: Russian and German, reading and preliminary grammar

Arithmetic: the four principle operations

Year 2

Bible: later prophets and writings, with Rashi's commentary and the Biur

Mishnah: orders of Nezikin and Kodashim, with explanation

Talmud: tractates Hulin, Nidah, Yevamot, Ketuvot, Gitin, Kidushin, with the commentary of the Rosh

Jewish law: Shulhan arukh, 'Yoreh de'ah' and 'Even ha'ezer'

Hebrew grammar: completion of Ben-Ze'ev's Talmud leshon ever

Languages: continuation of Russian and German, grammar and writing

Arithmetic: fractions and decimal fractions

Here it seems that in two years they studied all of Tanach, 5/6 of Mishnayot, 10 Talmudic tractates, and 3/4 of Shulchan Aruch (aside from the non-Torah studies).

(See comments here regarding whether this curriculum was "fudged".)

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    Is that Mendelson's Biur? – Shmuel Brin Jul 12 '18 at 22:11
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    Also, it's interesting that they didn't focus on the Yeshivish Masechtos. Rather, they focused more on the practical Halacha Masechtos – Shmuel Brin Jul 12 '18 at 22:13
  • @ShmuelBrin The footnote there says "This must refer to Mendelssohn's Biur". – Alex Jul 12 '18 at 22:13
  • @ShmuelBrin Notice also that they learned Gemara with the Rosh, and the masechtos they learned correlate to the parts of Shulchan Aruch that they learned. I.e. when learning Berachos, Shabbos, Pesachim, and Eruvin they learned Orach Chaim which is where the laws of those masechtos are codified. When they learned Chulin, Nidah, Yevamos, Kesubos, Kiddushin, and Gittin they learned Yoreh Deiah and Even Ha'ezer which is where those laws are codified. It seems the whole curriculum was oriented towards halacha. – Alex Jul 12 '18 at 22:26
  • Although see the comments, where people say that this could have been the "government" schedule. – Shmuel Brin Jul 12 '18 at 22:29
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Generally, the Classic Lithuanian Yeshiva is focused on those tractates that provide ample area for "Lomdus"/"Iyun" - "Analyses: (Shabbos), Sukka, Psachim, Yevamos, Kesubos, Nedarim, Gittin, Kiddushin, the 3 Babas, Sanhedrin. Maakos. They learn these with the commentary's of Rashi, the different Tosfos, Rashba, Ritva, Rif, Rosh, Ran, Ramban, and other medieval rabbis, focusing on particular ones depending on the style of analyses taught in that Yeshiva.

The Yeshivot that follow the "Brisk" method/curriculum focus on the tractates that deal with Kodshim (seder kodshim, plus parts of yoma, psachim, chagiga, nazir, sota, etc.) with the Rambam, and the Medrashie Halacha - The halachic Medrash. (as opposed to Medrash Agada, the agadic medrash, telling stories, explanations of the plot/story of tanach).

Kollelim folow one of these curricula or

  1. learn what are considered "Kollel Mesechtot": Shabbos, Eiruvin, Beitza, moed katan, sanhedrin?, avoda zara, Chulin or

  2. focus on halacha (can lead to semicha). (Tur), Shulchan Aruch, the various Sifrei halacha and teshuvos from the rishonim, and achronim. Depending on what subject they are focusing on, they will also learn the relevant talmudic sections.

  3. There are also Kollelim that focus on learning Mishnayot Zeraim or Teharos with the rishonim.

The division of time between the Gemara and the commentators really depends on the yeshiva. There are yeshivot that learn as little as 6 pages of talmud a year, giving an immense amount of time to study commentators. At the other end of the spectrum there are yeshivot that study a page a day.

The Study of Mussar and Halacha i.e Mishna Berurah, is expected, but generally on your own time: between the end of shacharit and the start of the day, at the ends of the study periods, before mincha and maariv.

The Chassidic and Sefaradic Yeshivot have a different style of learning that I am unfamiliar with.

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My neighborhood has a number of yeshivot. I have read the brochures of 2 of them and have stopped at a third one a few years ago, as my son had been considering a semicha program.

Some commonalities:

  • Most of the Gemarah study seems to focus on one or more from this list:

    • The 1st 3 Masechtot of Nezikin (The "Bavot"), Sanhedrin, sometimes Edyot or Horayot
    • Brachot is a commonly studied masechta
    • In Seder Moed, Shabbat is the most commonly studied. I'm assuming it's because Shabbat is the most frequent "holiday" of the year.
    • The other masechtot in Mo'ed are also studied. It seems that some "priority" is given to those masechtot relating to holidays themselves, e.g. Yoma, Succah, etc. rather than Ta'anit, Betza, etc.
    • In Nashim, almost all masechtot are studied by some yeshiva. Some preference seems to go to Kiddushin and / or Ketuvot. Maybe it's because many of the students are about to get married or are recently married and the Rosh Yeshiva considers these more relevant.
    • In Kadshim, some masechtot such as Chulin are studied. Not too many of these are concentrated upon. I'm surmising that it may be an attitude that items related to the Bet Hamikdash are historic interest and not as relevant today? I can't say, why.
    • IIRC, in Taharot, Nidah is the only one that has a Gemarah
  • As the emphasis and time is definitely on Gemarah study, those Masechtot such as Avot, Bikurim, etc. that don't have Gemarah don't get studied as much if at all.

  • Rarely have I seen study of Nevi'im or Ketuvim. Chumash study tends to be limited to the weekly parsha, and that may occupy 2 nights / week for a few hours.

That's not to say that the yeshiva may hold separate shiurim in Nac"h for the community, overall, but it is rarely part of the curriculum or yeshiva schedule, itself.

  • Avot D'Rav Nattan? Ummmm ... I hate to say it, but when I decided to study it myself (outside a yeshiva environment) and introduced this to a yeshiva rebbe, his reaction was almost like, "What is that?" I think he had heard of it, but really did not know what it was about or how useful a sefer it was, esp. as a supplement, in a sense, to the "regular" Pirkei Avot.

  • Midrashim? Maybe a few yeshivot are studying that - none that I know of.

Again, this is based on observation of 3 yeshivot in my area. I sense, that what I saw is fairly common. If not, I'd like to know about other people's experiences.

  • I think the OP wanted to know which masechtot are learned – Daniel Aug 18 '15 at 11:55
  • Good answer. You answered which Gemaras, how much Tanach, how much Midrash. This is basically what I wanted to know. I am going to hold off accepting this answer, in case anyone else wants to give a different breakdown or explanation. – Mike Aug 18 '15 at 15:30
  • You're welcome. Again, this is what I have seen or heard. There may be variations. One almost certainty is that the emphasis is on Talmud Bavli. If that's not what you want to concentrate on, I suggest speaking to the Rosh Yeshiva or whomever else is in charge. At one point, I wanted to understand Pirkei Avot with Rabbeinu Yonah. Not one yeshiva in my neighborhood - never mind elsewhere - had any thought of learning this, or even a community shiur. The solution? They found me a chavruta. So, if they don't have what you want, ask them to find you a chevruta. – DanF Aug 18 '15 at 15:36
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    Brisk is famous for learning Kodshim – Shmuel Brin Jul 12 '18 at 22:20
  • @DanF I dont know which yeshivot are in your neighboorhood, but in any yeshiva that has any sort of connection to the Mussar Movement, Pirkei Avos with Rabeinu Yona is close to a basic mussar text. – SamuelManuel Aug 16 at 0:13

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