Basic Elements of the Kolot D'var Torah
From the class taught by Arthur Strimling and Trisha Arlin
Length: Your drash should probably not be more than five minutes (2 or 3 pages, double spaced)
Basic Outline: *
1. Short summation of the entire parsha, usually no longer than a paragraph or two.
2. Focus on one topic, line, angle, word, character or story that really caught your attention. You can be appalled or interested or amused or puzzled. But it should be something that raises a question for you, something unresolved that you want to find your way through or at least explore (it can remain unresolved). Zero in on it or extrapolate wildly or meander through it, but use this focus to anchor your drash.
a. Give a simple explanation of your focus, what it would mean to someone seeking a basic explanation and interpretation.
b. Expand from the simple explanation.
c. If you can and want to, find other interpretations from any possible angles that appeal to you: mystical, historical, academic, metaphorical, political, feminist, etc. Take us on your journey.
3. Citations. Your research will give your drash depth and help you think of new ways to address your topic. Your citations only need to tell us the writer and maybe the specific book. Integrate the citation into the writing. (Think about the mitzvah of b’shem omro, which we will discuss in class.) Use the citation to help you expand your idea of what the focus means. You might enjoy trying to use both a traditional commentator and a more modern one. Check out our list of resources.
4. Find a personal relationship to your topic. There’s probably a personal reason why you picked that focus. Even if there isn’t, it probably relates to some part of your life.
5. Share your opinions, along with those of commentators. That’s why you’re there, we really want to know what you think and feel!!
6. Conclusion. Do your best to tie all your different elements together in a concluding paragraph.
7. Remember, you are reading this out loud to an audience who will hear it once. Use language that will be easy for you to speak and easy for us to follow.
* This is one basic form, and there are many others, including speaking in the voice of a character or characters in the parsha, story, poetry, rap, music, dance, etc. but in one way or another it is good to reflect these elements.
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