Israel – Animated Talmud: Bringing Gemara To Life

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    An introduction to Talmud via AnimationIsrael – Learning Gemara as a boy, Benny Goldstein wished he could see the characters come alive, arguing with each other while trying to prove their point. Now a father of three young boys, the thirty three year old Goldstein, who lives in Israel in the city of Modiin, has finally made his dream come true with the introduction of Animated Talmud, also known as Gemara Chai.

    Goldstein, who started studying safrus at the age of twelve, became a sofer at a very young age and got his semicha at age eighteen. He learned computer graphics for the sole purpose of writing a computer program that would give children a rich, full color, introduction to the world of Gemara in a clear, easy and enjoyable manner.

    While Goldstein’s original plan was to animate selected perakim in Gemara that younger children might be learning in school starting with Eilu Metzios, numerous educators told him that before delving into the intricacies of the Talmud, children needed to first understand the basics. Volume One of Animated Talmud, “Introduction to the Talmud”, contains fifteen short lessons with over one hundred minutes of animation, describing how Mishnayos and Gemara came to be written down, the history of the Talmud, basic Gemara terminology, how pages are laid out in a Gemara and how they were first printed, among many other fascinating lessons.

    Five years in the making, animatedtalmud.com is a virtual learning experience, designed to capture the attention of today’s children, who are constantly inundated with color and excitement, by using a media they are already attracted to. Animated Talmud required the skills of a team of artists, animators, full scripts and a narrator, resulting in a beautiful website which has impressed numerous rabbanim, day schools and has been lauded by Rabbi Berel Wein, the Orthodox Union and Torah Umesorah. Funded exclusively by donations, Animated Talmud is completely free because, in Goldstein’s words, “it was a labor of love, not something to be making money on.”

    While many have endorsed this project, there are some who are concerned that using this tool may detract from the difficult yet rewarding process that is part and parcel of learning Gemara. Goldstein insists that his program is not a substitute for delving into the intricacies of the Talmud but is simply a means to help students understand the original concept. In an interview with VIN News, Goldstein explained, “When Rashi first wrote his commentary, people were against it, because it simplified Chumash. Same thing when Artscroll and animated mishnayos were first introduced. A kid looks at Gemara and it is black and white. Children in this generation need something that can compete with the color and excitement of what is out there.”

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    26 COMMENTS

    1. For those that are concerned that this will detract from the intricacies of the Talmud, don’t use the meforshim on the blatt at all. Go figure it out yourself. It’s ridiculous that people would be against making learning Talmud easier.

      • IMHO this is a wonderful way of learning. for everyone. Of course it will have its detractors and naysayers. It will even arouse from their slumber those same “Askoonem” who made a federal case about Lipa’s concerts. Instead of letting each individual or family choose whether to attend the concert or not. Some of those above-mentioned “Askoonem”, whom I happen to know personally (and shall remain nameless. But they all know who they are.) will take action to ban this animated introduction to Mishnayos.

    2. If this wonderful product brings even a few boys and girls to limud talmud, it will have been worthwhile and offsets any downside risks of having a computer in the home for the yinglach. With proper filters and parental oversight the joy of watching your yinglach look forward to learning gemorah will be a reach naches.

        • There is no chiyuv to teach girls gemorah but both mishna and talmud are being taught to girls in most of the MO yeshivot and many conservative day schools. Its somthing to be happy about that they want to learn rather than worrying about whether it was done in 17th century Europe when most girls didn’t even go to yeshiva or beis yakov.

          • I respectfully disagree with you my friend. Tosafos and others strongly advise against it, so I don’t think it should be on the curriculum in mainstream orthodox Jewish schools. There are certain fears/reasons why this was the custom that don’t exactly fit with feminists who believe everybody must be exactly the same to be equal. I don’t think those are classical Jewish views and i don’t think they square with the Torah or the teachings of our sages. Thanks

            • Rashi’s daughters learned Talmud. There’s no chiyuv that women are required to learn Talmud, but there’s nothing wrong with it if they want to.

      • The tanaim and amorim would have been kvelling knowing that there machloksim would someday become the subject of computer animation and games which would bring yinglach much closer to real daas torah than sitting in a stuffy and crowded classroom with some blackhat teacher droning on in yiddish “shor shenagach shor”….

        • Then you need better and more animated teachers. Computers do not and never will take the place of a qualified and dedicated Rebbi. I had excellent Rebbeim and managed to learn well without Ernie & Bert.

        • “than sitting in a stuffy and crowded classroom with some black hat teacher droning on in yiddish “shor shenagach shor” these words tell me something about you…..

      • Why would you want this in Yiddish??? If your children don’t already speak English, which they should, this would be wonderful way to both teach them talmud AND improve their English proficiency and computer skills.

    3. Just took a look at the website and it is terrific. It’s so nice when someone really connects to kids’ problems and creates a solution. However, at the bottom of each page there is a link to Facebook, and an invitation to discuss the content of that page of learning, on Facebook. This should be removed immediately if Animated Talmud is to be appropriate for children.

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