About the Talmud Programs
|Amud Yomi Concept||Shas Review|
|Amud Yomi Program|
Turning Baal Habaatim into Talmidei Chachamim :
The goal of this program is to master all of SHA"S, knowing the "Shaklah Vetaryah" ("Give and Take") fluidly and in many cases retaining it entirely by heart. It is naturally a daunting task to master some 5400+ pages of Talmud, but it is doable with discipline, a game plan and an unwavering daily commitment. While appropriate for Advanced Talmud students, the program is still accessible for anyone with a basic understanding of the structure of the Gemara and 3 or more years of learning experience. By following the program, one can know, retain and master Blatt, Mesechtos, and eventually, the entire Talmud.
A commitment of two hours and 15 minutes, per day, 5 days a week, and 2 hours review on both Shabbos and Sunday is neccessary.
Monday through Friday are shiur days. Shabbos and Sunday are used for review of the week's material. Each shiur lasts 30 minutes and covers approximately one amud (one side of a page) of Gemara. Following the shiur, particiants spend one hour reviewing the amud 3-4 times inside with a chavrusa. It is imperative to do the full review in order to properly retain the newly learned material. An additional 30 minutes will be spent reviewing previous material from past amudim in a cyclical fashion starting from beginning of the masechta until your current amud. Finally, at the end of the day, that day's amud should be reviewed one more time, for approximately 15 minutes. Shabbos and Sunday should be used to review the full weeks material an additional 2-3 times for 90 minutes with the additional 30 minutes of structured cyclical review also done on these days.
In summary: The Gemara will be learned inside once in shiur, 4 more times the same day, and 2-3 more times on each of 2 weekly review days, bringing a total of approximately 8-10 times the material is seen inside the text, each week. In total, the average amud is reviewed approximately 20 times, including the cyclical review system by the time a larger unit is tested.
While this may seem tedious and unnecessary because you already "know it", keep in mind that this will solidify the Shaklah Vetaryah and assure your long term retention of the material.
Tests are distributed online at week's end covering the 5 amudim learned that week. A typical test is 10 questions usually 9 questions on the material for that week, and one question on material covered in the cyclical reviews. They are taken at home "closed book" and take between 30-45 minutes to complete. At the conclusion of each perek or sometimes 2 perakim, an extended review period is given, to chazer the entire perek, and a perek test is given. Then, ultimately, at the end of the mesechta, an entire closed book mesechta test is given.
The Amud Yomi program covers approximately one side of a page of Talmud per day. The program also promotes review habits and breaks to review larger units. For many, a Daf Yomi program, which covers both sides of a page daily without ever taking a break, is a chance to become familiar with the Talmud but not to achieve real mastery (though there is a select group skilled enough to use the Daf Yomi for mastery). Learning an amud a day allows for more time focused on review and facilitates mastery at a reasonable and retainable pace.
This innovative program is called SVT Shas, an acronym for Shakla Vetarya Shas, literally "the taking and giving" of discussions in the Gemara. The aim of the group is to learn Shas Gemara and master the Shaklah Vetaryah orally, including all opinions cited, the authors of those opinions, as well as to master the concepts of the tractate. This is done entirely by repeated review inside of the understood material. Rabbi Chaim Malinowitz, Sh'lita, the Rav of the Beis Tefillah shul in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel, and general editor of the Artscroll edition of the Talmud, tested forty students publicly at a community wide celebration of the completion of one of the mesechtas. Mesmerized by their clarity over the entire tractate he remarked: "This, bezrat Hashem, will be the start of a revolutionary program that many, many people will join."
Indeed the learning program is revolutionary. The students in the class span a range of professions, including dentistry, medicine, education, actuarial insurance, public relations, intellectual property, programming, accounting, catering, research science, renovation contracting, as well as a sprinkling of Torah teachers and Rabbis.
One student commented, "My chavruta (study partner) has 2 jobs and 8 children. He couldn't resist joining the program and committed to the challenging schedule of shiur daily from 5:30am-6am lecture followed by 6am-7am chavruta, plus an additional 45 minutes later each day for review. A total of 2 hours 15 minutes per day commitment even on Shabbos!" As another student aptly said, "Knowing the Gemara well means that you think of the Gemara as your friend instead of your enemy." It's a temptation that is hard to resist.
The shiur is digitally recorded and available online a few hours later.. Some participants of the program cannot make the early time and instead download the lecture, scheduling their chavrusa times later in the day. Others use the online review lectures for helpful review.
Each half hour shiur begins with a critical summary of the contents of that day's amud before viewing it inside. This way, when Rav Pogrow presents the amud, he has already prefaced the information and the students are ready to absorb it effectively and efficiently. Rav Pogrow focuses his lecture on a very disciplined presentation of the Shaklah Vetaryah of the Gemara, and the job during chazarah (review) is to solidify knowledge of the flow of the arguments of the Gemara while establishing fluid reading and explanation of the language. A typical question on a test would ask for all positions in a particular debate and the names of their protagonists. A perek (chapter) would typically be tested by both focusing on detailed information across the tractate while also focusing on broader themes and positions covered numerous times.
The tests are essential because Rav Pogrow maintains there are different types of learning: passive and active. In the process of active learning ones memory banks are tapped and exercised. Tests help facilitate active learning. Students in the class relate how before the shiur began Rav Pogrow gave an example from tefillah that many say every day, asking them to name the amounts of particular ingredients that went into the incense for the Temple service. Despite the fact that this particular prayer is said by many every day of the year, no one present could accurately answer the question. Why not? Rav Pogrow explained: "Because the mindset when we read is a mindset of passive, not active learning." The combination of an early morning structured shiur, chavrusa learning, aggressive review and tests produces an ideal atmosphere for active learning, and hence mastery.
Shas at Your Fingertips:
As an additional service for the experienced learner, Rav Pogrow has started the Shas Review Program. As Rav Pogrow writes, "The difference between whether the group will be true talmidei chachamin or not truly lies in the back chazarah." (The continuous guided cyclical review). As an aid to this goal, Rav Pogrow is accumulating an archive of shiurim (approximately 30 minutes to an hour each) which consist of quick and concise reviews between 3-5 amudim each. These offer an excellent tool for chazarah of previously learned mesechtas.