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A school in which the Talmud, Jewish legal codes, and rabbinic literature and commentaries are the primary subjects of study.

Although semikha (rabbinic ordination) may be an outcome of yeshiva study, yeshivas are institutions intended for all Jewish males who wish to advance their study of Judaism. Originally, it was the local place to sit and study texts. Yeshivas became places where scholars gathered, where each famous and learned teacher attracted his own students. In eighteenth-century Lithuania, where the modern form was developed, yeshivas drew students from a variety of European localities and provided the students with a formal curriculum, a place to stay, and often a stipend as well.

Yeshiva education consists of endless hours of vocal and intensive review of texts with fellow students (khavruseh). Usually once a day, after posting a bibliography and a series of textual glosses that students must explore in advance, a teacher will give a shiur (lesson in Talmud). Some modern yeshivas include secular studies as well (they are often called day schools in North America and yeshivot tikhoniyot in Israel).

In Israel, yeshivas are numerous; some embrace the ideals of religious Zionism, and some deny them. The former encompass hesder yeshivas, whose students combine military service with study; the latter have students who are exempted from military service. Among the most prominent of the former are the Etzion Yeshiva, Merkaz ha-Rav Kook, and Kerem b'Yavneh. Among the latter are the Ponovez Yeshiva, in B'nei B'rak, and the Mir Yeshiva, in Jerusalem. The greatest growth has been in yeshivas connected with Sephardim.


Helmreich, William B. The World of the Yeshiva: An Intimate Portrait of Orthodox Jewry, augmented edition. Hoboken, NJ: Ktav, 2000.

samuel c. heilman

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