The Taryag Mitzvah Project promises to revolutionize the way Judaism is studied
If there were a definitive book on Judaism, which one would it be? The Talmud? Maybe the Zohar or Maimonides’ code of Jewish law? Possibly a combination of the above? There is a problem though: none of these works are designed for the beginner. Even though many of them have been translated and elucidated on, they are nonetheless daunting for the beginner.
For teachers, scholars and beginners this dilemma will soon be eliminated. Enter the Taryag Mitzvah Project which promises to revolutionize the way Judaism is studied.
The brainchild of editor-in-chief Rabbi Dovid Wax, the Taryag Mitzvah Project goes through the entire Torah commandment by commandment. When it is completed it should span over twenty volumes. Each commandment is dealt with fully in a manner comprehensible even to the beginner. Based on the many rabbinic sources from the Talmud down to contemporary halachic deciders and commentators, each commandment contains a number of elucidated sections.
First there is a general explanation of the commandment itself followed by a more in-depth analysis. The second section takes a broader look at the ramifications of the commandment and discusses specific situations and cases where it applies. Following this come halachic questions and answers related to the specific commandment leading into reasons for the commandment. Finally there is a section of relevant stories and parables.
Since traditional Judaism is an observance based religion with 613 separate commandments, in order to get a real grasp of Judaism the first place to start is with understanding the commandments. This project comprises the most comprehensive detailing of the commandments ever presented in one place. But it is even more ambitious. In addition to the twenty plus volume encyclopedia, the commandments are also presented in other ways.
A series of books for children includes textbooks, student workbooks, and teachers’ guides – all presented in full color and in a contemporary and easy to navigate style. The student workbook contains an overview of the commandment, the source of the commandment, the laws which evolve from it, reasons for the commandment and a story about it. At the end of each section there is reviewing information for the student followed by questions to encourages critical thinking and a section that requires the student to do further independent research.
Together with the student textbook is a teacher’s book that includes learning objectives for the commandment, keywords reviewing information as well as additional information to stimulate discussion. The teacher’s book also includes extra elements encouraging the student to carry out independent research into the commandment as well as suggestions on how to teach the specific material.
On a more elementary level the Taryag Project has produced Mitzvah Cards similar to Baseball or Soccer Cards which contain all the basic information about each commandment attractively presented with a pouch to keep the cards in.
This is a tremendous resource for both the scholar and the beginner which will no doubt revolutionize the way Torah is taught in both Jewish day schools and in adult education classes.
Produced to a budget exceeding twenty million dollars, the project is sponsored in large part by the generosity of Ira Rennert and family who, together with Rabbi Wax and his team of scholars have my personal gratitude for this stupendous undertaking.