Torah – Where Do You Start?

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    Let’s say a Jew, who has no knowledge of any Torah, asks to learn with you. What do you learn first? Where do you start?

    Do you start with Torah Shebichsav? If so, where? From the stories in Bereishis? Yetzias Mitzrayim? Matan Torah? Vayikra? When would you move on to Torah SheBeal Peh/Mishnayos? Maybe you should start learning Halachah? He has to know what to do and how to act. Mishnah Berurah, Chayei Adam, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch? Maybe Hashkafah or Mussar? From which sefer? There is so much, and there is no beginning, so where do you start? What are the most important things a newcomer to Torah should know first?


    For me, I found the blue laws of brachos book to be a very good place to start because it is very applicable to every day life, and they have a glossary for terms that one needs to know in the future to integrate into the frum community.


    Teach what Hillel told the Ger on one foot.


    Rav Shach said that shor shenogach should be the first thing learnt by someone who wants to learn for the first time.


    pirkei avos

    🐵 ⌨ Gamanit

    It depends on the person you’re teaching… you’ll want to start with something that will give him/her a good taste for learning torah. Sort of like the honey for a three year old boy.


    You ask us? Ask him. Ask what he would like to learn and what brought him to the decision to put aside some of his precious time and study, then teach him what he mentions, and then you will go from there.


    Daniela- I’m talking about a case where he doesn’t have an obvious preference and he is asking for your judgment.

    🐵 ⌨ Gamanit

    Do you know his personality type? What does he enjoy learning in secular studies?



    It depends on how smart he is as well as what would interest him. If he isn’t ready to “practice” Yiddishkiet then stay away from Halacha for now. I think Chumash rashi would be interesting although be prepared for lots of philosophical questions…Maybe try doing Meam Loeiz with him its quite fascinating.


    Teach him who he is. He is a descendant of Avrohom Avinu. Avrohom stood against the world & chose Hashem. Then Hashem chose Avrohom & his children forever, & he is one of them. Teach him the history of the Avos & their dedication to Hashem. Going down to Mitzrayim as a family & coming out as a nation, the nation that received the Torah, the nation that he belongs to. Get him to feel pride in that heritage so he will want to commit himself to the ranks of the Jewish people.

    Then give him an easy mitzva to do. Give him a talis katan. Let him walk around all day (even with the tzitzis tucked in), knowing that Hashem surrounds him wherever he goes. Tell him Hashem is thinking about him 24/7. Tell him to keep Hashem on his mind from time to time during the day. He will feel pride & ask you for another mitzva and it’s explanation. Pesach is coming. Invite him to your seder. Learn a little about it in advance so he’ll know what to expect. Anticipate the best seder YOU have ever had.


    He needs Hebrew first, Tanach, Mishna, and certainly Kitzur ShA to teach him the halachos.

    Then, after he’s learned all of that, after a year or two, he should start with Gemara.

    After another 3 years or so, introduce Rishonim


    Dov, that was a gimmick to get him to learn the rest. That is the context of all the other stories mentioned in the same Gemara.

    He has to have a perspective of what the Torah is, Bichsav and Baal Peh. He also has to know practical Halacha, which should be learned in a manner that is not overwhelming and that won’t give the wrong picture of what Mitzvos are.

    Chazal say that one should divide his day in three. A third for Mikra, a third for Mishna (Halacha), and a third for Talmud. The Ramchal says that the proportion changes as you master each level.

    The advantage of starting with Gemara is that a person connects to it and can enjoy it. Many have succeeded with learning Gemara, even with pre-Teshuvos.


    Get the book “Love your neighbor” by R Zelig Pliskin along with the Chofetz Chaim on loshon hora.

    Then you introduce ideas from Choshen Mishpat, such as what you’d find in the Bavas, but even before you get to the gemara, you need to teach the concepts such as ribis, sechiras poalim, etc because chances are he is working and has to deal with business issues and needs to know these halochos now.


    Partners for Torah has a great book for teaching Hebrew reading.


    left to write – that was a beautiful answer!


    I believe Partners in Torah has a list of suggestions on what to learn with newcomers.


    Thank you Chana. Good Shabbos.


    “Let’s say a Jew, who has no knowledge of any Torah, asks to learn with you. What do you learn first? Where do you start?”

    i beleive this was the whole machlokes to some degree before aish hatorah and ohr sameach broke off from each other. each one sanctions different approaches to introducing torah to someone for the first time.


    Aish, I believe, is geared more towards hashkafa and Ohr Sameach more towards skills.

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