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Learning bekiyut and iyun

What makes a great sage?

    What makes a great sage?  Breadth or depth? Loads of knowledge or penetrating insight? In the words of the Talmud, "What is preferable?  Sinai or oker harim?" Sinai means a scholar with an encyclopedic mind, as though he/she had been present at the giving of the Torah. An oker harim (one who uproots mountains) has a fiery and incisive mind (Talmud, Harayot 14a).

    This is an age-old debate in Jewish education. Many schools and yeshivot try to accommodate both ideals through two study tracks. Bekiyut study is about covering ground and increasing your exposure to as much or the Talmud or Tanach (Bible) as possible. Iyun (in-depth analysis) focuses on one subject and seeks to understand it from many angles.

    Now that we have Google and CD Roms, bekiyut learning may seem less essential. At some point though, quantity of knowledge becomes quality. Broad knowledge of the Jewish tradition is what makes profound insight possible. 

Jewish ways

Not sleeping on Rosh Hashanah

Rabbi Julian Sinclair

Not sleeping on Rosh Hashanah
Jewish ways

Censoring Aleinu

Rabbi Julian Sinclair

Censoring Aleinu
Jewish ways

Veggie cheeseburgers

Rabbi Julian Sinclair

Veggie cheeseburgers
Jewish ways

Reading the ketubah

Rabbi Julian Sinclair

Reading the ketubah
Jewish ways

Reciting psalm 27 in Ellul

Rabbi Julian Sinclair

Reciting psalm 27 in Ellul
Jewish ways

Havdalah before Tishah B'av

Rabbi Julian Sinclair

Havdalah before Tishah B'av
Jewish ways

Thirteen Attributes

Rabbi Julian Sinclair

Thirteen Attributes
Jewish ways

Dedicating a new home

Rabbi Julian Sinclair

Dedicating a new home
Jewish ways

Spilling wine at Havdalah

Rabbi Julian Sinclair

Spilling wine at Havdalah