Enduring Understandings
1.  Any translation of לשון הקודש is already interpretive, and therefore the full meaning of the תורה can only be accessed in its original language.
2.  No two languages are identical, and therefore many words in לשון הקודש will not have one exact translation in English which conveys its full, multifaceted meaning.
3.  A student must know 90% of words in a text to be able to independently study that text. [Knowledge of less than 75% of the words in the text is “frustration level – un-teachable.”] [10]
4. In לשון הקדוש, the שורש or שם עצם is the foundation of almost every word in חומש, and learning a large number of these roots and basic words gives us access to most of the words that will appear in all of חומש.i[11]
5. Words in לשון הקדוש are interrelated, so learning vocabulary words gives a student access to a much greater number of as of yet unfamiliar but related words.
Essential Questions
1. Why do I need to learn לשון הקדש?
2. What is the best way to translate this word in this context?
3. Is it important to know every single word in a given text before approaching it?
4. What is the שורש/שם עצם of this word?
5. How is this word related or similar to a word that you have already learned?

The student will build a working vocabulary of common שרשים, שמות עצם, and other frequently used words in the חומש.

6. מפרשים

Learning מפרשים allows for deeper engagement with the חומש text, particularly in the areas of higher order thinking. The more a student has mastered the skills of vocabulary, language, textual comprehension and understanding רש”י, the more they are prepared to appreciate the various levels of interpretation that additional commentaries bring to the text. There is also a new set of skills and knowledge that contribute to meaningful study of the מפרשים: It is crucial for students to understand their unique styles and approaches, and the tools of analysis or insight that they typically use, and it is helpful for them to learn about their biographical context.

Note to teachers:  For the above reasons, we recommend that introducing מפרשים be postponed until students have consolidated their skills for independent learning of 

חומש and רש”י – typically, after eighth grade. However, we are introducing these standards here for classes that may be ready earlier, and to demonstrate the bridge from the grade 1-8 standards to more advanced, high school level study of the חומש.i[48]

The student will be able to:

  • Read, translate, and understand מפרשים
  • Demonstrate knowledge of various commentators’ backgrounds and methodology in order to analyze components of the commentary.
  • Compare and contrast various מפרשים
Enduring Understandings
1. Understanding the biographical background and historical context of a given מפורש will help us better understand his teachings.
2. מפורשים are part of תורה שבעל פה, helping us to understanding the חומש. All are sacred, and many were written with רוח הקדש.
3. Different מפרשים address different levels of פרד”ס, and have a unique approach to the text.
4. Every מפורש has its own structure and “key” which enables us to navigate and understand it.
5. Every מפורש has a distinct style, approach and mode of expression.
Essential Questions
1. Who is this מפורש? / How does his biographical information impact his teachings?
2. Where did this מפורש get this from? / Is it okay to disagree with a מפורש? / What would I be missing in my understanding of the פסוק if I hadn’t learned this?
3. What level of פרד”ס does this מפורש address? / What is this מפורש doing?
4. How is this מפורש structured? / How does the structure of this מפורש reflect its purpose?
5. What do I need to know about the style, approach and language of this מפורש to learn and understand it?


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[10] Gunning, 1998. Assessing and correcting reading and writing difficulty.

[11] See the Appendix to this standard for relevant studies and word lists.