For many generations the Talmud provided both the form and the substance of Jewish study. Children and adults, pupils in school, and students in yeshiva devoted their time to the study of the Talmud, and the greatest Rabbinical scholars invested most of their spiritual energy in deepening their knowledge of it. There is obviously no comparison between the level of a beginner in Talmudic study and that of a scholar already well versed in the subject. What is surprising, however, is the ability of students of the most varied levels of understanding and knowledge to study the Talmud endlessly, and with ever-increasing enthusiasm.
There is no single method for studying the Talmud. Throughout the centuries, wherever Jews lived, they developed many systems of study and various styles of commentary. Thoroughness of study also varied widely. In principle it is possible to study the Talmud again and again, constantly finding new insights, but one must distinguish between primary study of the material, necessary for mastering the subject, and all other levels of study, whose purpose is to gain deeper insight and understanding.