The beginning of rationalizing Talmud study as a necessary component in a broader Jewish studies curriculum is the recognition that rabbinic Judaism is the historical victor in the narrative of the Jewish people. While second commonwealth Judaisms may have been a story of sects, by the gaonic period one of these “sects”—namely, rabbinic (talmudic) Judaism—became the Judaism of the majority, despite challenges from groups like the Karaites. This development sets the stage for further advances in Judaism and Jewish life from the early Middle Ages on. Therefore, the Talmud is the key to in-depth understanding of most of the disciplines which constitute Jewish studies, because the culture it created is the foundation on which they are built. Even the Bible, as crucial as it is for the understanding of the Jewish experience, is significant for later Judaism only as it is interpreted by the Rabbis.

Michael Chernick, “Neusner, Brisk, and the Stam: Significant Methodologies for Meaningful Talmud Teaching and Study,” The Initiative for Bridging Scholarship and Pedagogy in Jewish Studies, Working Paper no. 19 (May 2010), 2-3.

Radical and ultraliberal critics of Israel present it in the darkest possible terms, as an ethnocentric, militaristic, paranoid entity. Even to the more levelheaded outside observer, the Jewish state’s actions can seem clumsy at the best of times, belligerent at the worst. But in the Jewish heart and mind, Israel deserves a special place, and a different kind of consideration. For much like the traditional institutions of Jewish communities of old, the State of Israel provides perhaps the most critical of services for its people. Indeed, it is an institution fundamental to the survival and prosperity of the global Jewish community. Through such means as the Law of Return, the IDF, and the Israeli security services, it provides Jews with a home and a sanctuary in times of emergency. It also instills in them a sense of pride that only a sovereign nation, living in its own land, can foster.

Marla Braverman, “The Zionist Imperative,” Azure No. 43 (Winter 2011), 25.