Where Do I Start?

To learn in chevruta outside the structure of regular shiurim, you’ll need to make some adjustments to the SVARA method you’re used to. Follow the steps below to get on the same page as your chevruta and kickstart your independent learning journey.

A) Start with a check-in: We believe that chevruta learning starts with a check-in. Take some time to share why you’re here, what you’ve experienced in chevruta in the past, and what parts of your learning you want to pay special attention to this zman.

If you’re a new chevruta pair, some questions might include:

  • Who are you? What brings you joy?
  • What’s a great chevruta experience you’ve had in the past?
  • What do you love about learning Talmud?
  • Which types of learning materials are most helpful when you learn?

If you have learned together in chevruta before, some questions might include:

  • What are your favorite parts of your chevruta relationship?
  • What parts of your learning, or parts of your chevruta relationship, do you want to pay special attention to this zman?
  • What parts of learning Talmud make you feel most energized? Where do you feel like you are being stretched in your learning?

For new and existing chevruta, you might also want to dive into the following questions:

  • What are you reflecting on this Elul and how might it show up in your learning?
  • How do you define chevruta? Do any of the following definitions of chevruta resonate with you?
    • A framework for intimate connection with another human being, with the text and with the tradition (“chevruta” refers to both the partnership and the people in the partnership!)
    • A spiritual technology for developing radical empathy and interdependence
    • An interactive, engaging, busy, and immersive process, with both chevrutas feeling totally present in the relationship and the learning
    • A profoundly meditative and empowering experience which depends on rigorous and clear expectations of owning the text inside and out

B) Set some shared learning goals with your chevruta: Now that you’ve each shared a little bit about your learning dreams, it’s time to create a plan for learning together. Some questions you might ask yourselves include:

  • How often and how long would you like to learn for? When and how will you do it? Take some time to schedule out your sessions for the rest of Elul!
  • How much text do you want to learn?
  • What pace would you like to take with your learning, and what amount of time do you want to spend focusing on the trees or the forest?
  • What skills or parts of Talmud learning do you want to pay special attention to?
  • How will you check in with each other about how things are going?

C) Choose your Sugya: Look through the “Choose your Sugya” materials and determine what text(s) you want to learn.

D) Start learning! Take a look at “The Four Steps of the SVARA Method: Elul Chevruta Lovefest Edition” as a reminder and consider how these familiar steps must be adapted when you are learning outside the structure of a regular shiur.