Academy of higher Talmudic learning. Through its biblical and legal exegesis and application of scripture, the yeshiva has defined and regulated Judaism for centuries. Traditionally, it is the setting for the training and ordination of rabbis. Following the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem, a series of yeshivas were set up around the Levant to codify and explain centuries of Jewish scholarship. In medieval times, yeshivas flourished in Europe wherever there were large populations of Jews. The first yeshiva in the U.S., aynEtz Hsubdotayyim (1886), later became Yeshiva University (1945).
Learn more about yeshiva with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Private university in New York City. It was established in 1886 as Yeshiva Eitz Chaim; in 1915 it merged with a Jewish theological seminary. Today the university is independent, although its curriculum emphasizes Jewish culture and history. Yeshiva consists of a liberal arts college, a college for women, a college of Hebraic studies, and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, as well as schools of Judaic studies, Talmudic studies, business, law (the Cardozo School), social work, education, and graduate studies, among others.
Learn more about Yeshiva University with a free trial on Britannica.com.
The term yeshiva gedola ("senior/great yeshiva") usually refers to post-high school institutions, and yeshiva ketana ("junior/small yeshiva") can refer to institutions catering to boys of elementary as well as of high school age. The term "yeshiva" is also used sometimes as a generic name for any school that teaches Torah, Mishnah and Talmud, to any age group.
A yeshiva with a framework for independent study and providing stipends for male married students is known as a kollel.
The transference in meaning of the term from the learning session to the institution itself appears to have occurred by the time of the great Talmudic Academies in Babylonia, Sura and Pumbedita, which were known as shte ha-yeshivot, "the two colleges."
The Mishnah tractate Megillah mentions the law that a town can only be called a "city" if it supports ten men (batlanim) to make up the required quorum for communal prayers. Likewise, every beth din ("rabbinical court") was attended by a number of pupils up to three times the size of the court (Mishnah, tractate Sanhedrin). These might be indications of the historicity of the classical yeshiva.
As indicated by the Talmud, adults generally took off two months a year (Elul and Adar, the months preceding the harvest, called Yarchay Kalla) to pursue work, the rest of the year they studied.
Organised Torah study was revolutionised by Rabbi Chaim Volozhin, a disciple of the Vilna Gaon (an influential 18th century leader of Judaism). In his view, the traditional arrangement did not cater for those who were looking for more intensive study.
With the support of his teacher, Rabbi Volozhin gathered a large number of interested students and started a yeshiva in the (now Belarusian) town of Volozhin. Although the Volozhin Yeshiva was closed some 60 years later by the Russian government, a number of yeshivot opened in other towns and cities, most notably Ponevezh, Mir, Brisk, and Telz. Many prominent contemporary yeshivot in the United States and Israel are continuations of these institutions and often bear the same name.
Traditionally, religious girls' schools are not called "yeshiva." The Bais Yaakov system was started in 1918 under the guidance of Sarah Schenirer. This system provided girls with a Torah education, using a curriculum that skewed more toward practical halakha and the study of Tanakh, rather than Talmud. Bais Yaakovs are strictly Haredi schools. Non-Haredi girls' schools' curricula often includes the study of Mishna and sometimes Talmud. They are also sometimes called "yeshiva" (e.g., Prospect Park Yeshiva). Post-high schools for women are generally called "seminary" or "midrasha".
This schedule is generally maintained Sunday through Thursday. On Thursday nights there may be an extra long night seder, known as mishmar sometimes lasting beyond 1:00 am, and in some yeshivot even until the following sunrise. On Fridays there is usually at least one seder in the morning and the afternoons are free. Saturdays have a special Shabbat schedule which includes some sedarim but usually no shiur.
Studying is usually done together with a study-partner called a chavrusa (Aramaic: "friend"), or in a shiur (lecture). The chavrusa is one of the unique features of the yeshiva. The partners actively and intensly study the nuances of Talmudic text.
Hasidic yeshivot study Hasidic philosophy (Chassidus). Chabad yeshivot, for example, study the Tanya, the Likutei Torah, and the voluminous works of the Rebbes of Chabad for an hour and a half each morning, before prayers, and an hour and a half in the evening. (See Tomchei Temimim.)
Intensive study of the Chumash, meaning the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy with the commentary of Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaqi 1040 - 1105) is stressed and taught in all elementary grades, often with Yiddish translations and more notes in Haredi yeshivas. The teaching of tanakh is usually done on the high school level. When students eneter the post-high school levels the yeshivas expect that students will be fluent in the Torah and the main classical, rabbinical commentaries on it before they arrive at the yeshiva.
Students are required to read the Weekly Torah portion by themselves (known as the obligation of Shnayim Mikra. The in depth teaching of Nevi'im and Ketuvim is not encouraged other than the five Megilloth and Tehillim but students may do so on their own.
Some modern yeshivot, particularly in Israel, occasionally offer a course in one or more of the books of Nevi'im and Ketuvim. The reasons that most yeshivot do not offer or encourage a course of study in Bible are not clear and controversial. The yeshivot contend that they are Talmudical colleges and thus concentrate on the Talmud, but they do also teach Jewish law, customs and ethics.
Used in another context, yeshivish can sometimes refers to the culture which has grown out of the American Orthodox Jewish yeshiva system. Used as an adjective, there are several connotations: (i.e.) certain cultural and other quasi-halachic norms of the "Olam Hayeshivot" (yeshiva world) — e.g., wearing a black hat, jacket, and white shirt for davening.