Standard 1

Grade: K–2 3–5 6–8 9–12

Students will become independent and literarily astute readers of the biblical text in Hebrew.

PREAMBLE

Reading and understanding the Tanakh in its original Hebrew allows its reader to experience the religious power of the text, its poetic beauty, and its literary nuances. As the great Hebrew poet Hayim Nachman Bialik said, "Reading a text in translation is like kissing a bride with the veil still on."

The goal of this standard is to help students develop strategies for reading the text in Hebrew. This standard lays out many of the linguistic and grammatical areas that students should master, and it delineates access skills that students will need to read the text closely. It teaches students how to do more than just read. It teaches students how to read with feeling and with sensitivity to the text's subtleties—in short, how to be a literarily astute reader. Acquiring these strategies and access skills will help students become independent and sensitive readers of the biblical text. That is, Jews who are able to pick up a Tanakh and read, understand, and interpret it on their own.

The ultimate goal of comprehending the text is to allow for creation of meaning. Comprehension is a means to an end, and the end is a relationship with the Tanakh that needs no intermediaries, no go-betweens, just the Jewish reader, the Hebrew book, and "no veil."

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STANDARD

GRADE LEVEL K–2
STANDARD 1 BENCHMARKS
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1.1 Retells learned biblical narratives.

1.2 Participates in conversations in response to the biblical narrative.

1.3 Knows that the Tanakh is a Hebrew text.

Suggested Example: Teacher reads verses in Hebrew from the Torah and uses key phrases and names
(, יעקב, רחל, לאה משה, מרים אברהם, שרה).

1.4 Recognizes names, places, and key words from biblical texts.

1.5 Locates names, places, and key words from biblical texts.

Sample Learning Activities:

  • Given a short selection of a biblical narrative, find and highlight names of personalities referred to in the text in one color and names of places in another.
  • Find key words and phrases in the biblical text when prompted by the question: "?איך כתוב בלשון התורה."
  • Illustrate key words, phrases, or verses.

1.6 Reads verses from the Tanakh in Hebrew.

1.7 Knows the alphanumeric of Hebrew.

Sample Learning Activities:

  • Find the correct page when prompted with Hebrew perek and pasuk.
  • Locate pesukim in chapters being studied.

1.8 Articulates the names and order of the five books of Moses in Hebrew.

1.9 Differentiates between section, book, chapter, and verse of Tanakh.

1.10 Employs a variety of strategies and accesses skills when reading blocks of texts independently.

1.10a. Understands verb prefixes and suffixes.

Suggested Examples: "ויאמר","ויאמרו", "ותאמר

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STANDARD
GRADE LEVEL 3–5
STANDARD 1 BENCHMARKS
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1.10b. Identifies roots in verbs and nouns.

1.10c. Recognizes repeating words and roots.

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    • Locate words in a given passage that share a common root.
    • Given a short passage, identify a reappearing root in its various forms.
  • Sample Learning Activities:

1.10d. Identifies biblical noun declensions, e.g., possessive suffixes.

Suggested Examples: , ביתי ביתך, ביתכם

1.10e. Distinguishes between narrative, dialogue, and inner quotations.

Suggested Examples:

ויאמר משה אל הא-לוהים הנה אנכי בא אל בני ישראל ואמרתי להם א-לוהי אבותיכם שלחני אליכם ואמרו לי מה שמו מה אמר אליהם Exodus 3:13

.ותאמר אליהן אל תקראנה לי נעמי קראןָ לי מרא כי המר שדי לי מאד Ruth 1:20

Sample Learning Activities:

  • Given an unpunctuated text, put in quotation marks and punctuation.
  • In an oral "group" reading of the narrative, read the dialogue or narration portion correctly and identify where the role begins and ends, e.g., read the role of Moshe, the word of God, the Israelites, and the narrative voice.

1.10f. Uses context cues to comprehend words in their context.

    Sample Learning Activity:

  • Read an "unseen" passage and translate a new word from its context.

1.10g. Comprehends verses and short blocks of verses from the Tanakh in Hebrew.

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    • Respond to comprehension questions about the plot line and sequence of a story.
    • Given divided sections of a Torah portion, write captions.
  • Sample Learning Activities:

1.11 Knows basic biblical vocabulary.

See appendix for lists of common words in the Tanakh.

1.12 Parses verses using specific trope.

Suggested Examples:
אתנחתא divides biblical verse into two sections.
סלוק , סוף פסוק ends biblical verse.

1.13 Discerns different names or nomenclatures referring to a biblical personage or the lack of a name of a biblical personage.

Suggested Examples: Genesis 37, Joseph and his brothers; Exodus 2:1-7, Bat Pharaoh and the women by the Nile

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STANDARD
GRADE LEVEL 6–8
STANDARD 1 BENCHMARKS

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1.14 Employs additional access skills when reading blocks of texts independently.

1.14a Recognizes regular biblical verse syntax.

Suggested Examples: verb, subject, direct object
...ויקם מלך חדש Exodus 1:8
ותקח צפורה צור Exodus 4:25

1.14b. Identifies perfect and imperfect forms of verbs in their textual context.

Suggested Examples:
perfect שמר/שמרה
imperfect ישמור תשמור

1.14c. Understands gender, person, aspect, and number.

Suggested Examples: masculine and feminine; first, second, and third; perfect and imperfect; singular and plural

1.14d. Recognizes vav consecutive imperfect.

Suggested Example: Exodus 2:2

Suggested Resource: Marc Zvi Brettler, Biblical Hebrew for Students of Modern, Israeli Hebrew, p. 170

1.14e. Recognizes the קל, פִעל, נפעל binyanim and knows the form of verb signals.

1.14f. Identifies shared roots in verbs and nouns.

Suggested Example: Exodus 3:2, ר.א.ה

1.14g. Understands related words in a noun construct.

Suggested Examples:
מְקום שְכֶם, תּוֹרַת מֹשֶה, יְדֵי עֵשָׂו , בַת פרעה

1.14h. Parses verb with accusative suffix.

Suggested Examples: וַיִקָחֻהו , וְאֶשְלָחֲךָ, יַאֲכִלֵנו

1.15 Recognizes texts identifying literary devices.

Suggested Examples: typological numbers (i.e., 1, 7, 40); inclusio (symmetrical verses in the opening and closing of a section); parallelism; roots that repeat; type-scene

1.16 Recognizes unusual verse structure.

Suggested Examples:

When a verse begins with a noun . . .
ויוסף הוא השליט על הארץ Genesis 42:6
וה' פקד את שרה Genesis 21:1

When there is no verb in the verse . . .
ה' הוא האלֹהים I Kings 18:39

1.17 Recognizes gaps in the text.

Suggested Example: ויאמר קין אל הבל אחיו Genesis 4:8

1.18 Comprehends previously unencountered vocabulary in its context.

1.19 Uses a concordance when exploring the significance of a particular word or phrase.

Suggested Examples: Even Shoshan Concordance; Judaica Classics Library; Bar Ilan Responsa (CD-ROMs)

1.20 Employs grammatical and literary skills when reading blocks of texts independently.

1.21 Reads and comprehends longer blocks of verses from the Tanakh in Hebrew.

Sample Learning Activities:

  • Respond to comprehension questions about the story line, sequence, or laws of a given biblical passage.
  • Find and cite verses to support a personal statement about the text.
  • Raise questions regarding an unusual syntactical, structural, or grammatical structure.
  • Compare passages of two texts or within the same narrative for their similarities and note differences in language or sequence.
  • Know how to divide a block of verses into natural divisions or, given natural divisions of an "unseen" narrative, give each section a caption.
  • Use literary devices to support a search for meaning in the text.

1.22 Comprehends units of text after textual study.

Sample Learning Activity:

  • Refer to previously learned sources in new text study.

1.23 Understands that the verbal system in biblical Hebrew is different from modern Hebrew.

GO TO
STANDARD
GRADE LEVEL 9–12
STANDARD 1 BENCHMARKS
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1.24 Knows aspects of biblical Hebrew.

Suggested Resource: Marc Zvi Brettler, Biblical Hebrew for Students of Modern Hebrew

Suggested Examples: explanations cited from Biblical Hebrew for Students of Modern Hebrew

Perfect verb, e.g., פָּקְדָה / פָּקַד
(typified by suffixes added to verbal roots) p. 170

Imperfect verb, e.g., / יִשְׁלַח תִּשְׁלַח
(generally a prefixed verb) p. 170

Vav consecutive imperfect, e.g., ּ וְיָבֹאו / וַתָּבֹאנָה
(Context will indicate complete or future action.) pp. 172-174

Vav consecutive perfect, e.g., ואהבת
(Context will indicate completed or future action.) pp. 172-174

Cohortative, e.g., נבנה
הבה נבנה / Let us build
(expresses desire in first person singular and plural) p. 171

Jussive, e.g., יְהִי
יהי אור / Let there be light
(conveys notion of "let" or "may" in third person form) p. 171

Imperative, e.g., דַבְּרִי / דַבֵּר
(conveys command)

Infinitive construct, e.g., שְמוֹר
ויהי' ב שמור

(functions like a modern infinitive without the "ל " and can take on a prefix and suffix) p. 175

Infinitive absolute. e.g., שמֹע
והיה אם שמֹע תשמרון
(strengthens a verb) p. 175

1.25 Parses verbs completely.

Sample Learning Activity:

  • Given a verb, the student can identify its root, binyan, gender, number, person, and aspect.

1.26 Uses biblical dictionaries independently.

Suggested Example: Brown, Driver, Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament

1.27 Uses computer Tanakh programs and concordances.

Suggested Examples: Judaica Classics: Responsa: Bible Works

1.28 Analyzes literary devices found in the biblical text.

Suggested Examples: a significant number; leitworts; parallelisms, and inclusios; repetition

1.29 Recognizes literary conventions of the biblical text.

Suggested Examples: foreshadowing; story reversals; type scenes; repetitions; dialogues

Suggested Resources: Joel Grishaver, Being Torah; Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative; Ilana Pardes, Counter Traditions in the Bible

Sample Learning Activities:

  • Write an analysis of a text highlighting literary devices in the text.
  • Use literary conventions and devices to analyze biblical personalities.

1.30 Translates verses meaningfully so they accurately reflect the Hebrew.

Sample Learning Activity:

  • Given an "unseen" text, translate the text.

1.31 Makes conceptual and linguistic connections within and between texts.

Sample Learning Activity:

  • Given two texts or sections from a narrative, compare them and reflect on their significance and meaning.

1.32 Identifies various genres of biblical literature.

Suggested Examples: poetry; legal texts; narrative, myth; historical narrative; wisdom; prophesy

1.33 Understands uses of metaphoric language in the Tanakh.

Sample Learning Activities:

  • Suggest interpretations for metaphors in prophetic language.
  • Write an essay analyzing structure, style, and use of metaphor for a given text.

1.34 Reads and comprehends selected poetic/prophetic texts.

Sample Learning Activity:

  • Create artwork, a musical work, or a collage in response to text.

1.35 Presents an interpretation of the text and uses literary understanding to critically evaluate other readings of the same biblical passage.

Sample Learning Activity:

  • Write an analytical essay comparing interpretations of a chosen text.

1.36 Engages in intertextual and intratextual exegesis.

Sample Learning Activity:

  • Compare and analyze texts for their commonalities, differences, and meanings.