Could you imagine trying to remember all the Rabbinic laws by heart? After the destruction of the second temple in 70 CE and ongoing persecution of the Jews, Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi feared that the Jewish community would become so fragmented that oral traditions would be lost. Out of this crisis the Mishna was born. A unique element of the Mishna is that Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi recorded the Rabbinic debates so both sides of the argument would be preserved. What are the pros and cons of transforming the oral tradition into a written document?  What do we gain from learning both sides of the debated issue? Through thought provoking questions  and creative learning activities, such as student simulation of a debate on a specific topic and playing a game of broken telephone, learners consider why it is so important that law and traditions be recorded and which of their own personal and family traditions they would choose to preserve in writing.

The learners will:

  1. understand the advantages and disadvantages of an oral tradition and a written tradition

  2. know the historical background to the development of the Oral Law and the motivations behind Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi’s decision to write down the oral Torah in the style he chose

  3. be able to reflect on and document an oral tradition within their own lives and to experience the value of debate and argumentation

Unpacked for Educators materials include:

  1. An educator’s guide that  contains many rich components. These are organized under the following titles: 

  • review (questions that relate to the video)

  • discussion

  • activities

  • reflection

  • further learning

  1. A video designed to spark interest in the topic.

  2. A lesson plan (link in the attachment above) that incorporates additional building blocks for the construction of an engaging and interactive lesson.

Computer, Projector, Whiteboard, Whiteboard Markers, Paper, Pens

The website link includes a “further learning” section in the educator’s guide.

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