A mini-yeshiva in a box

With growing numbers of Jewish men - and women - wanting to devote part of their day to Torah while pursuing their professions, one doesn't have to sit in a yeshiva or attend frontal lectures to do so.

mishna disk 88 298 (photo credit: )
mishna disk 88 298
(photo credit: )
Master Mishna: Technology for Mishna Study and Review, a set of six CD-ROMs, sold together or separately on one DVD-ROM, by TES (www.jewishsoftware.com), requires Windows 95 and up, for ages 10 through adult, $39.95 per disk, special price $129.98 for whole set, or shekel equivalent. - Rating: ***** With growing numbers of Jewish men - and women - wanting to devote part of their day to Torah while pursuing their professions, one doesn't have to sit in a yeshiva or attend frontal lectures to do so. Instead, the use of software and the Internet for such studies is burgeoning, allowing those thirsting for such studies to do so when convenient and at their own speed. As the demand is highest among the English-speaking Jewish community around the world, most of the programming is in that language. Now TES, a veteran software house based in Monsey, New York and specializing in Jewish educational software, has released a series covering the entire text of the Mishna, narrated in Hebrew with a sentence-by-sentence English translation and lessons by teacher and author Rabbi Avraham Kosman - who studied at the famed Ner Yisrael Yeshiva in Baltimore and then moved to Bnei Brak's Slabodka Yeshiva in 1981. The audio narration selector makes it easy to play, rewind, pause, stop and resume Rabbi Kosman's flow of words at any time. The six orders of the Mishna are Zera'im ( dealing with agricultural laws, field gleanings for the poor, forbidden mixtures of plants, animals and clothing, tithing and the sabbatical year); Mo'ed (Shabbat, festivals and fast days); Nashim (marriage, childless widows, the Nazirite, divorce and suspected adultery); Nezikin (property damage, loans and interest, stolen and lost goods, inheritance, capital punishment, the judiciary, oaths, idol worship and ethics); Kodashim (animal and bird sacrifices, flour and wine offerings, laws of the firstborn, atonements and the building of the Second Temple); and Tehorot (purity, impurity, corpses, ritual baths, marital relations and leprosy). The digital formal is a boon, because you can view not only the traditional layout of each Mishna page - with vowels and the adjacent commentary by R. Ovadia Mi'Bartenura and Tosfot Yom Tov's side commentary - but also a text-only format whose fonts and letter and page sizes can be changed at will and manipulated like any word processor text. Also included in the disk's database are the full Babylonian Talmud with Rashi and Tosefot, the complete Bible in Hebrew with an English translation and the entire Rambam, Shulhan Aruch and Mishna Brura. This makes it possible to look up a cross reference in any of these sources just by clicking a button - a split-second operation that saves hours it would take to painstaking flip through pages in a variety of volumes. Teachers will find it extremely useful for printing out text, annotating, highlighting and personalizing the page in any combination of colors and copying and pasting text to their computer's paint program to design class worksheets. The Add & Link feature enables users to integrate pictures and flow charts to any letter, word or sentence on the page. Using a microphone and the built-in sound recorder, you can even record and store your own notes in the specific place in the text that you want them. To attach a note, recording or picture, just click on an icon and then on the highlighted material you want to link, giving it a name and easily locating it in the future. There is also an icon linking you to TES's Web site to access additional resources, including Mishna Yomi (daily Mishna) information and the ability to hear a virtual Mishna lesson over the Internet. A single Mishna can be listened to in as short as 10 minutes when you're on the run, but you can also delve deeper and devote hours to the material. The set - a mini-yeshiva in a box - is another step in the democratization of Jewish learning, bringing the opportunity of study at a variety of levels to different age groups and both sexes.