|Sample 1st-Year Daily Schedule|
Halachah With Rabbi Jacobs
|9:30am||In-depth Gemara Program|
|1:30pm||Lunch and Break|
|3:45pm||Business Ethics Shiur|
|4:00pm||Track 1: Hebrew Textual Skills
Track 2: Talmud Skill Building
|5:00pm||Private Tutors, Independent Study, Prep/Review|
|6:00pm||Chumash With Rashi*|
|8:30pm||Optional Class (Parsha, Philosophy, Prayer)|
Our academic schedule roughly follows the standard university calendar. However, as we begin 2-3 weeks before Rosh Hashana, the start date can be as late as mid-September or as early as mid-August. Machon Yaakov’s 2013-2014 year starts August 19th, 2013, and finishes after Shavuot, on June 6th, 2014.
Machon Yaakov also offers a summer program for those students interested in continuing studies in Jerusalem in the 6-week interim between 1st and 2nd years. Vacation times fall during select Jewish holidays, including longer breaks before and after Succot in the Fall, during Pesach in the Spring, and a shorter break over Chanukah. Many students choose to travel during these times off.
Our class schedule is broad and intensive, containing significant exposure to Talmudic analysis, Jewish philosophy, Jewish Law (Halacha), Hebrew language skills, and character development (with significant one-on-one counseling from several senior staff members).
The Gemara is the teachings passed down by the Rabbis in the centuries following the destruction of the Second Temple, and forms the core of what has come to be known as Torah-centric or Orthodox Judaism. The most widely-studied of these rabbinic teachings are known collectively as the Talmud, which has two parts: Mishna and Gemara. Every morning after each student has worked alongside his chavrusa (study partner), he attends class given by one of the Rabbis at the yeshiva where he clarifies and builds on his understanding of the day’s assigned text.
At Machon Yaakov, each student is paired with a chavrusa, a fellow student with a similar level of prior learning. The chavrusa-style of learning challenges each person to analyze, question, and explain the material in order to help sharpen and refine each other’s understanding. Through this process, students often arrive at entirely new insights into the meaning of the text.
A great deal of Talmudic material deals with business law. Each day there is a short shiur for first-year students that focuses on specific real-world cases from everyday life, finance, business and damages/personal responsibility in order to study the application of Torah principles.
Students with a broader Hebrew background are able to enhance their ability to read and understand the Talmud. Through an approach called “beki’us”, students see much more breadth of Gemara over a short period of time, learning how the bigger picture of the oral law recorded in the Talmud fits together.
The Chumash are the five books of the Written Torah. This is a central class where students derive a relevant, deep, as well as broad perspective on how Torah thinking develops an individual, the community, and society. Rabbi Shlomo Itzhaki – or “Rashi” as he is more commonly known – was a French Rabbi during the Medieval period. He is the author of a comprehensive commentary on the Chumash, as well as the Talmud. Today, thousands of people study “Chumash with Rashi.” Each first-year student will have a daily “Chumash with Rashi” shiur to help appreciate the Torah portion of the week. Rashi clarifies the “simple” meaning of the text to provide easier access and a fuller understanding of the depths and complexities of Chumash.
Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto is best known for his classical work, Mesilas Yesharim (Path of the Just). This book is studied in many yeshivas, and Machon Yaakov is no exception. The book is centered on character development through simple steps towards the perfection of the self. Within each step, Rabbi Luzzatto explains the step itself, its elements, and how it can be acquired, and he provides students with an insightful journey of introspection and character development.
The word “Halacha” is usually translated as “Jewish Law,” although a more literal translation might be “the path that one walks.” The Halacha shiur gives students an insight and a deeper understanding of the Jewish laws and customs surrounding daily life and holidays.
Even with so much time dedicated to prayer, people often forget to look into the depth and meaning of the prayers they recite every day. This class takes an in-depth look at specific prayers, their literal translation, origins, and deep spiritual meanings. Adding a whole new level to each prayer, this class helps students to appreciate the inner workings of Jewish prayer.
Self-development and refinement drive students’ attitudes at Machon Yaakov. This class looks into the ethics and morals that one encounters on a daily basis. For example, a class will investigate the root cause and effects of anger, humility, and joy and how they intertwine in one’s life. Learning to understand each component, students can utilize tools to progress individually.
Certain topics each week seem to jump off the page and undoubtedly students want a deeper understanding. The Maharal speaks intensely and genuinely about specific ideas in the weekly parshah. This class looks through his commentary to gain a greater appreciation of Torah and see the brilliance of one of the greatest Torah scholars of the last 500 years.
Every day the students at Machon Yaakov learn directly from the primary Hebrew texts. The textual skills class gives a student with zero previous background in Hebrew the ability to read, translate and access a text that was at one time incomprehensible.
Here at Machon Yaakov, each student has an opportunity for tutoring on a one-on-one basis with a Rabbi at the yeshiva. This time gives each student the valuable opportunity to practice their reading and translation skills, or to discuss a challenging section of Gemara from his morning shiur.
One’s approach and attitude toward life, prayer, study, and development are integral to growth. The Maharal, or Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, speaks profoundly about character development and one’s relationship with his Creator. Students are able to see intensive teachings by this renowned sage on areas ranging from prayer to one’s relationship with Hashem.
Students are seemingly able to look through an eclectic range of topics on the weekly Torah portion based on their own approach during the week. In an open forum, Rabbi Rosenbloom is able to brilliantly blur the lines between lecture and discussion so students can participate as a partner looking closer at the weekly Torah portion and how it relates to our lives today.