Mesivta News

Mazal Tov! Eleven Mesivta Students Master Entire Talmudic Tractate


Walk into Mesivta’s main study hall at just about any time of day and night, and you can expect to be greeted by the sight of students learning in pairs or alone, probing the depths of Jewish scholarship. Even during meal breaks—when their peers relax, play basketball, or just get some fresh air—some devoted students remain behind, swaying over oversized tombs filled with tiny Hebrew and Aramaic texts.

Many of them were participants in Mivtzah Torah, a program in which students in the 10th and 11th grades used their free time to study dozens of double-sided folio of Talmud not covered by the official school syllabus.

(The 9th grade has a similar program that is incorporated into the actual syllabus, not a voluntary program to be completed outside of school hours.)

“It was a really good way to use the breaks,” says Minnesota native Levi Feller, who recently graduated after having participated in the program all three years he studied at the Mesivta. “Besides, you end up learning a lot. I would recommend it to anyone.”

Rabbi Menachem Schechter presents certificate of achievement to Levi Feller 

This year, Feller and 11 of his peers mastered the entire tractate of Gittin, which deals with the laws and practices of Jewish divorce.

“It was especially gratifying to see that the boys really took the learning seriously,” reports Rabbi Menachem Schechter, who oversees the program, “Each and every participant averaged in the upper nineties on the tests they took throughout the year.”

While most students were tested in a series of 5 exams, each covering as many as 20 of the 90 folio of the tractate, Feller and fellow student Naftali Levertov from Austin, Texas, were then tested on the entire tractate at once. They displayed a prodigious grasp of the book, without as much as glancing inside to refresh their memory during the two-hour exam.

The participants in the program were lauded for their efforts and presented with special certificates and gifts in a ceremony attended by their peers and faculty members.

“The truth is that I was surprised how much we accomplished,” says Feller, “But of course if you set aside the time and put in the effort, you’re going to get somewhere.”

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