Table 2.

Traditional Jewish Means of Education and their Modern Parallels.

Traditional Jewish* Modern Teaching
Learning is motivated internally (by faith) and externally (by social pressure) Learning is motivated internally (through idealism, curiosity) and externally (professional demands)
Consideration of the student’s needs and abilities in pacing study Student-centered teaching; personal learning plan and portfolio11
Arguments based on citations Referenced arguments (evidence-based medicine)
Learning how to think independently and substantiate opinions (“ra'ayah”) Evidence-based decision-making skills
Use of biblical narratives as basis for legal discussions (e.g. 1 Sam. 1 with Berachot 31b) Learning by using narrative, literature, arts, media, etc.
Rhetorical method12 Challenge students by asking questions; transform all students into active learners
Encourage students to ask questions, even if theoretical12 Encourage students to ask questions
Encourage the examination of problems from different perspectives; force students to articulate and defend their positions before teachers and peers in an open debate12 Encourage different opinions and lead a debate
Introduce multi-valence readings of texts through the use of commentaries from different times and places Explore more than one interpretation for an observation
Recognition of different layers of text, “Pshat” (literal), “Remez” (allegory), “Drash” (metaphorical), “Sod” (mystical) Generate deeper learning by acquiring more detailed data or new theories; the use of imagination
Learning in partnership with a fellow student (“Hevruta;” a pair that may learn together for many years)13 Peer teaching and learning in small groups
Group review of texts to allow weak students to learn from stronger ones Group learning among students including via social networks
The junior member(s) of a rabbinical tribunal have to express opinions before others On clinical rounds, students express opinions before more senior team members, encouraging openness and unbiased ideas
Preparing sources before the actual group discussion (“Habura”) The flipped classroom
Encourage repetition and memorization in order to know, cite, and build analogies Immediate recall of sources as a basis for decision-making
Notricon” use of acronyms and rhymes to support recollection of learning material Use of acronyms, acrostics, and rhymes to support recollection of learning material
Dividing the public reading of the Pentateuch in the synagogue into an annual cycle reinforces knowledge of the foundation text Spiral teaching that strengthens learning at each cycle; division of teaching material throughout planned scholastic year
Try to resolve textual conundrums through commentaries12 Problem-based learning;15 case-based learning
Connect daily events to the current learning material14 Motivation by clinical relevance and actual cases
Law is summarized so that there is practical guidance (e.g. “Shulchan aruch” and “Mishnah Berurah”) Summary of principles, decision trees, algorithms
The student is expected to devote time to ethics, biblical studies, practical law, etc. independently of formal curriculum Self-directed learning portfolio
Learning the laws associated with a holy day before its advent Theory is learned before practice
Rehearsal before practical performance (e.g. children perform precepts before they are actually obligated to do so) Simulation before practice
Cross-textual learning that connects related topics (“Sugyot”) and concepts to “the big picture” Cognitive map
Din ve-heshbon”—students are expected to self-examine their behavior Mindfulness, reflection (meta-cognition), accountability
Bein Hazmanim”—set vacations to allow rejuvenation Protected time to allow teachers and students alike to rest from professional demands
Shiur”—a lecture to a large group usually by a rabbi Large-group teaching by a distinguished professor
Hameshiv”—an individual who provides one-on-one instruction and fulfills the position of a knowledgeable mentor Private teacher; mentor
Hamashgiach”—a person who provides ethical and spiritual guidance as well as individual consultation on non-academic issues A counselor, group leader, or a mentor
Moreh Shiur”—teaching to a large group by someone who is not a rabbi Large-group teaching by tutors
Meshamesh”—learning skills through apprenticeship Apprenticeship, internship
Shimush Chachamim”—a young student is assigned to follow a senior student and learns from him the code of behavior Mentoring, role modeling, professionalism
Tests before being promoted to be a Rabbi or a “Dayan” (a judge in a rabbinic court) Competency-based exams in order to achieve licensing (e.g. medicine)
*Hebrew terms are in italics and enclosed in quotation marks.
RMMJ Rambam Maimonides Medical Journal Rambam Health Care Campus 2017 July; 8(3): e0033. ISSN: 2076-9172
Published online 2017 July 1. doi: 10.5041/RMMJ.10309