The Talmud (תלמוד) is a record of rabbinic discussions on Jewish law, Jewish ethics, customs, legends and stories, which Jewish tradition considers authoritative. It is a fundamental source of legislation, customs, case histories and moral exhortations. The Talmud has two components, the Mishnah, and the Gemara, a discussion of the Mishnah (though the terms Talmud and Gemara are generally used interchangeably). It expands on the earlier writings in the Torah in general and in the Mishnah in particular, and is the basis for all later codes of Jewish law, and much of Rabbinic literature. The Talmud is also traditionally referred to as Shas (a Hebrew abbreviation of shishah sedarim, the "six orders" of the Mishnah).
- 1 Structure and function
- 2 The two Talmuds
- 3 Attitude to the Talmud within Judaism
- 4 Historical study
- 5 External attacks on the Talmud
- 6 Talmudists
- 7 The Daf Yomi ("Daily Page")
- 8 Translations
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Structure and function
Traditional Judaism has always held that the books of the Tanakh were transmitted in parallel with a living, oral tradition. Thus, the Torah - the "Law" or "Instruction" - is the written law, while the oral law - the Talmud - deals with its application and elaborates on its meaning. The Talmud, ultimately, constitutes the authoritative redaction of this tradition. It is thus the major influence on Jewish belief and thought. Furthermore, although not a formal legal code, it is the basis for all later codes of Jewish law, and thus continues to exert a major influence on Halakha and Jewish religious practice. (See Maimonides introduction to the Mishneh Torah .) The Talmud is arranged content-wise by Order and by Tractate; while conceptually, it is divided into two parts: Mishna and Gemara.
Mishna and Gemara
The Jewish Oral law was recorded by Rabbi Judah haNasi and redacted as the Mishnah (משנה) in 200 CE. The oral traditions were committed to writing to preserve them, as it became apparent that the Palestine Jewish community, and its learning, was threatened. The rabbis of the Mishnah are known as Tannaim (sing. Tanna תנא); teachings in the Mishnah are generally reported in the name of a Tanna.
Over the next three centuries the Mishna underwent analysis and debate in Israel and Babylon (the world's major Jewish communities). This analysis is known as Gemara (גמרא). The rabbis of the Gemara are referred to as Amoraim (sing. Amora אמורא). The analysis of the Amoraim is generally focused on clarifying the positions, words and views of the Tannaim.
The Mishnah and the Gemara together comprise the Talmud. The Talmud is thus the combination of a core text, the Mishnah, or “redaction” (from the verb shanah שנה, to repeat, revise) and subsequent analysis and commentary, the gemara, or “completion” (from gamar גמר : Hebrew to complete; Aramaic to study)
Orders and tractates
The Mishna consists of six orders (sedarim, singular seder סדר). Each of the six orders contains between 7 and 12 tractates, called masechtot (singular masechet מסכת). Each masechet is divided into smaller units called mishnayot (singular mishnah). In the Talmud, not every tractate in the Mishnah has Gemara. Furthermore, the order of the tractates in the Talmud differs in some cases from that in the Mishnah; see the discussion on each Seder.
- First Order: Zeraim ("Seeds"). 11 tractates. It deals with prayer and blessings, tithes, and agricultural laws.
- Second Order: Moed ("Festival Days"). 12 tractates. This pertains to the laws of the Sabbath and the Festivals.
- Third Order: Nashim ("Women"). 7 tractates. Concerns marriage and divorce, some forms of oaths and the laws of the nazirite.
- Fourth Order: Nezikin ("Damages"). 10 tractates. Deals with civil and criminal law, the functioning of the courts and oaths.
- Fifth Order: Kodshim ("Holy things"). 11 tractates. This involves sacrificial rites, the Temple, and the dietary laws.
- Sixth Order: Tohorot ("Purity"). 12 tractates. This pertains to the laws of ritual purity.
Form and style
The Mishnah states concluded legal opinions - and often differences in opinion between the Tannaim. There is little dialogue. The Gemara, by contrast, is presented as a dialectical exchange between two (frequently anonymous and possibly imaginary) disputants, termed the makshan (questioner) and tartzan (answerer). These exchanges form the "building-blocks" of the gemara; the name for a passage of gemara is a sugya (סוגיא; plural sugyot). A sugya will typically comprise a detailed proof-based elaboration of the Mishna.
In each sugya, either participant may cite scriptural, Mishnaic and Amoraic proof to build a logical support for their respective opinions. In so doing, the gemara will bring semantic disagreements between Tannaim and Amoraim (often imputing a view to an earlier authority as to how he may have answered a question), and compare the Mishnaic views with passages from the Tosefta (תוספתא, a parallel, Mishnaic-era, source of halakha) and the Halakhic Midrash (Mekhilta, Sifra and Sifre). All such non-mishnaic sources are termed beraitot (lit. outside material; sing. beraita ברייתא). Rarely are debates formally closed; in many instances, the final word determines the practical law, although there are many exceptions to this principle. See Gemara for further discussion.
Halakha and Aggadah
While the Gemara is essentially a legal document, it also supplements the Mishna with discussion on non-normative, i.e. aggadic (or haggadic), material and biblical expositions, and is a source for history and legend. (Thus the Gemara may change topic to related subjects, including narrative Biblical commentary, ethics, science, sociology and medicine; often the only similarity between two sugyot is the fact that they cite the same Tannaitic or Amoraic sage.) Tractates discussing philosophical or ethical material - for example Berachot dealing with prayers and blessings - will have a relatively high aggadic content. The aggadot are generally presented as tales, folklore, historical anecdotes, moral exhortations, and business and medical advice - note that this mode of presentation is often used to convey deeper teachings indirectly. See Aggada for further discussion. The Ein Yaakov is a compilation of the aggadic material in the Babylonian Talmud together with commentaries.
The two Talmuds
There is only one Mishnah but there are two distinct Gemaras: the Yerushalmi and the Bavli, and two corresponding Talmuds. (Today the word "Talmud", when used without qualification, refers to the Babylonian Talmud.)
Talmud Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Talmud)
The Gemara here is a synopsis of almost 200 years of analysis of the Mishna in the Academies in Israel. Due to the location of the Academies, the agricultural laws of the Land of Israel are discussed in great detail. It was redacted in the year 350 C.E. by Rav Muna and Rav Yossi in Israel. Together, this Gemara and the Mishnah are known as Talmud Yerushalmi (The Jerusalem Talmud; however, the name is a misnomer, as it was not written in Jerusalem. As such it is also known more accurately as the Palestinian Talmud or The Talmud of the Land of Israel.)
References to the Yerushalmi are usually not by page (as in the Babylonian Talmud) but by the Mishna which is under discussion. References are therefore in the format of [Tractate chapter:Mishna] (e.g. Berachot 1:2). As the Babylonian Talmud is considered more influential, references to the Yerushalmi are generally prefaced by "Yerushalmi" to clarify their origin.
The classical commentaries on the Yerushalmi are the P'nei Moshe and the Korban ha-Eidah, which are printed alongside the Talmudic text in most versions of the Yerushalmi.
Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud)
The Gemara here is a synopsis of more than 300 years of analysis of the Mishna in the Babylonian Academies. It was redacted as a formal collection by Rav Ashi and Ravina, two leaders of the Babylonian Jewish community, around the year 550. Rav Ashi actually died in 427 CE, leaving an early version of the Talmud that is no longer extant. Ravina furthered the editorial process well after Rav Ashi's death. Editorial work by the Savoraim or Rabbanan Savoraei (post-Talmudic rabbis), continued on this text for the next 250 years; much of the text did not reach its final form until around 700. (See eras within Jewish law.) The Mishnah and Babylonian Gemara together form the Talmud Bavli (the "Babylonian Talmud").
In modern editions, the Gemara is never printed by itself, but always together with the Mishnah. The "canonical edition" is the Vilna edition, typeset by the widow and Brothers Romm. Because this "Vilna Shas" is used to the exclusion of all other printings, the typesetting, pagination, etc., are today frequently thought of as integral to the gemara. The Babylonian Talmud comprises the full Mishna, the 37 gemaras, and the extra-canonical minor tractates, in 5,894 folios.
A page number in the Talmud refers to a double-sided page, known as a daf; each daf has two amudim labelled א and ב, sides A and B. The referencing by daf is relatively recent and dates from the early Talmud printings of the 17th century. Earlier rabbinic literature generally only refers to the tractate or chapters within a tractate. Nowadays, reference is made in format [Tractate daf a/b] (e.g. Berachot 23b).
The primary commentary on the Babylonian Talmud is that of Rashi (Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac, 1040-1105). The commentary is comprehensive, covering almost the entire Talmud. It provides a full explanation of the words, and of the logical structure of each Talmudic passage. The commentary known as Tosafot ("additions" or "supplements") is also regarded as basic to a full understanding of the daf. It comprises collected commentaries on the Talmud, compiled mainly by French and German Rabbis (amongst them Rashi’s grandsons). It carries on the Talmud's own methods of dialectical argument and debate. Some have seen the Tosafot as an addition to the Talmud itself (“the Talmud on the Talmud”); it also functions as a supplement to Rashi's basic commentary. Both commentaries appear in virtually every edition of the Talmud since it was first printed.
In yeshivot, the analytic commentaries by "Maharshal" (Solomon Luria), "Maharam" (Meir Lublin) and "Maharsha" (Samuel Edels), which discuss the Talmud, Rashi, and Tosafot together, are considered integral to advanced study of the tractate. Advanced students will also study the legal commentaries on the Talmud, chiefly "the Rosh" (Asher ben Jehiel) and "the Rif" (Isaac Alfasi). These commentaries are printed in almost all editions of the Talmud.
Comparison of style and subject matter
The Talmud Yerushalami is fragmentary and difficult to read, even for experienced Talmudists. However, the Yerushalmi covers a number of topics specific to the land of Israel which are not covered in the Bavli, such as the agricultural laws. (The laws such as leaving the corners of one's field for the poor, leaving one's land fallow every seven years, etc. only apply within the borders of the land of Israel, and thus, the rabbis of the Bavli who had lived in the Diaspora for generations, in many cases, did not consider themselves experts in these laws.)
The redaction of the Babylonian Talmud is much more careful and precise. However, the gemara only exists for 37 out of the 63 tractates of the Mishna: most laws from the Orders Zeraim (agricultural laws limited to the land of Israel) and Toharot (ritual purity laws related to the Temple and sacrificial system) had little practical relevance and were therefore not included. (There is Babylonian gemara on Qodashim - this is probably because the study of the sacrificial regulations is generally thought of as being on par with actually performing sacrifices.) Over time, the Bavli has been studied more intensively, and thus has a plethora of commentary; further, because it is later, the Bavli is assumed to supersede the Yerushalmi, and so Jewish practice is generally determined based on the Babylonian Talmud.
Attitude to the Talmud within Judaism
The Talmud and its study spread from Babylon to Egypt, northern Africa, Italy, Spain, France, and Germany, regions destined to become abodes of the Jewish spirit; and in all these countries Jewish intellectual interest centered in the Talmud.
One great reaction against its supremacy was Karaism, which arose in the very strong-hold of the Geonim within two centuries after the completion of the Talmud. The movement thus initiated and the influence of Arabic culture were the two chief factors which aroused the dormant forces of Judaism and gave inspiration to the scientific pursuits to which the Jewish spirit owed many centuries of fruitful activity. This activity did not infringe on the authority of the Talmud; for although it combined other ideals and intellectual aims with Talmudic study, the importance of that study was in no way decried by those who devoted themselves to other fields of learning.
The central concept of Karaism was the rejection of the Oral Law, as embodied in the Talmud, in favor of a strict adherence to only the Written Law. This is in contradiction to the fundamental Rabbinic Jewish concept that the Oral Law, as well as the Written Law, was given to Moses on Mount Sinai.
Talmudic Study and Kabbalah
Within Judaism, the prime competitor to the primacy of Talmud study was the development of Kabbalah (Jewish esoteric mysticism) which in its modern form arose in the thirteenth century. During the decline of intellectual life among the Jews which began in the sixteenth century, the Talmud was regarded almost as the supreme authority by the majority of them; and in the same century eastern Europe, especially Poland, became the seat of its study. Even the Bible (as a "standalone" document) was relegated to second place and the Jewish schools devoted themselves almost exclusively to the Talmud; so that "study" became synonymous with "study of the Talmud."
A reaction against the supremacy of the Talmud came with the appearance of Moses Mendelssohn and the intellectual regeneration of Judaism through its contact with the gentile culture of the eighteenth century, the results of this struggle being a closer assimilation to European culture, the creation of a new science of Judaism, and the movements for religious reform. Despite the quasi-Karaite inclinations which appeared in early Reform Judaism, the majority of Jews clung to the Talmud as the primary document through which mainstream Judaism was understood.
Jews in Western culture
Modern culture has gradually alienated most Jews from Talmud study; Talmud is now regarded by the majority of Jews as merely one of the branches of Jewish theology. On the whole Jewish learning has done full justice to the Talmud, many scholars of the nineteenth and twentieth century having made noteworthy contributions to its history and textual criticism, and having constituted it the basis of historical and archaeological researches. The study of the Talmud has even attracted the attention of non-Jewish scholars; and it has been included in the curricula of universities.
The Talmud in modern-day Judaism
Orthodox Judaism continues to regard the Talmud as the primary document through which Judaism in general, and Halakha in particular, is to be understood. Orthodox Jews study the Talmud in depth, but rarely use Talmudic legal methodology to alter Jewish law as codified in later compendia. Orthodox Jews will also study the Talmud for its own sake; this is considered a great mitzvah, Talmud Torah (see Talmud study,Torah study). See also: Orthodox beliefs about Jewish law and tradition.
Conservative Jews also consider Halakha as binding, but do not always accept modern (post-1500) legal codes as absolutely binding; as such they use the Talmud in the same way that pre-1500 rabbis used it. This is theoretically still an option in the Orthodox community, but in practice is used very rarely. See also: The Conservative Jewish view of the Halakha.
Reform and Reconstructionist Jews usually do not teach much Talmud in their Hebrew schools, but they do teach it in their rabbinical seminaries; The world view of liberal Judaism rejects the idea of binding Jewish law, and uses the Talmud as a source of inspiration and moral instruction. See also: The Reform Jewish view of the Halakha and view of the Talmud.
The Talmud contains little serious biographical studies of the people discussed therein, and the same tractate will conflate the points of view of many different people. Yet, sketchy biographies of the Talmudic sages can often be constructed with historical detail from Talmudic sources.
Many modern historical scholars have focused on the timing and the formation of the Talmud. A vital question is whether it is comprised of sources which date from its editor's lifetime, and to what extent is it comprised of earlier, or later sources. Are Talmudic disputes distinguishable along theological or communal lines, and in what ways do different sections derive from different schools of thought within early Judaism? Can these early sources be identified, and if so, how? In response to these questions, modern scholars have adopted a number of different approaches.
- Traditionally, rabbinic Judaism has viewed the statements in the Talmud as being historically accurate, and written under a subtle form of near-prophecy called Ruach haKodesh (Divine inspiration). Most Orthodox Jews today view the statements described therein are entirely reliable, and accepted as such. Nevertheless, classical rabbinic commentators on the Talmud, known as the Tosafists, and the early Babylonian rabbis (Savoraim and Geonim) point out that the Talmud is often ambiguous or unclear. In general, textual criticism of the Talmud from Orthodox point-of-view has ceased after the completion of the Talmud, and modern attempts at textual criticism are mainly considered heretical, though some Modern Orthodox Rabbis view critical Talmud study as acceptable. .
- Some scholars hold that there has been extensive editorial reshaping of the stories and statements within the Talmud. Lacking outside confirming texts, they hold that we cannot confirm the origin or date of most statements and laws, and that we can say little for certain about their authorship. In this view, the questions above are impossible to answer. See, for example, the works of Louis Jacobs and Shaye J.D. Cohen.
- Some scholars hold that the Talmud have been extensively shaped by later editorial redaction, but that it contains sources which we can identify and describe with some level of reliability. In this view, sources can be identified to some extent because era of history and each distinct geographical region has its own unique feature, which one can trace and analyze. Thus, the questions above may be analyzed. See, for example, the works of Lee Levine and David C. Kraemer.
- Some scholars hold that many or most the statements and events described in the Talmud usually occurred more or less as described, and that they can be used as serious sources of historical study. In this view, historians do their best to tease out later editorial additions (itself a very difficult task) and skeptically view accounts of miracles, leaving behind a reliable historical text. See, for example, the works of Saul Lieberman, David Weiss Halivni, and Avraham Goldberg.
Changes within the text of the Talmud
The Talmud is presented as an analysis of the Mishnah, as opposed to a later, competing, teaching. Generally, the rabbis of the Talmud will not disagree with their counterparts from earlier generations. In fact, for an Amoraic opinion to be accepted as authoritative it must be in accordance with the teachings of at least one of the Tannaim.
However, some scholars suggest that the current text of the Talmud is artificially smooth; the text, having been edited by the Savoraim (post-Talmudic rabbis), covers up many disagreements between the rabbis of the Mishnah and the rabbis of the Talmud. The present text of the Talmud thus shows little disagreement. Eli Turkel writes:
- What is the reason that later generations never disagree with a halacha in the Talmud? In the introduction to Mishne Torah, Maimonides declares that the sages after the generation of Rav Ashi and Ravina accepted on themselves not to disagree with any halacha in the Gemara. Thus, even if individual portions of the Gemara were ADDED BY LATER GENERATIONS they did not change the halacha. This viewpoint is reiterated by Rav Yosef Karo in his commentary on Mishne Torah (Kesef Mishne on Maimonides' Hilchot Mamrim 2:1, also Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik in Two Kinds of Tradition in Yahrzeit lectures vol. 1.). It is interesting to note that Rav Yosef Karo mentions this only with regard to the Mishna and Gemara. There is no such ruling with regard to Gaonim and Rishonim. Rav Yosef Karo, among the early generations of Acharonim, recognized no formal barrier to disagree with a Rishon or a Gaon. (Turkel's essay "Rabbinic Authority" in Modern Scholarship in the Study of Torah)
Some within Orthodoxy are comfortable with noting that when someone writes "later generations never disagree with a halacha in the Talmud", this is in effect a legal fiction. In practice, legal authorities did disagree with what was in the Talmud, and in some cases actually changed the Talmud itself. This new Talmudic text then became accepted as binding, and the Jewish community acts as if there was no change.
External attacks on the Talmud
The history of the Talmud reflects in part the history of Judaism persisting in a world of hostility and persecution. Almost at the very time that the Babylonian savoraim put the finishing touches to the redaction of the Talmud, the emperor Justinian issued his edict against the abolition of the Greek translation of the Bible in the service of the Synagogue. This edict, dictated by Christian zeal and anti-Jewish feeling, was the prelude to attacks on the Talmud, conceived in the same spirit, and beginning in the thirteenth century in France, where Talmudic study was then flourishing.
The charge against the Talmud brought by the convert Nicholas Donin led to the first public disputation between Jews and Christians and to the first burning of copies of the work (Paris, 1244). The Talmud was likewise the subject of a disputation at Barcelona in 1263 between Nahmanides (Rabbi Moses ben Nahman) and Pablo Christiani. This same Pablo Christiani made an attack on the Talmud which resulted in a papal bull against it and in the first censorship, which was undertaken at Barcelona by a commission of Dominicans, who ordered the cancellation of passages reprehensible from a Christian perspective (1264).
At the disputation of Tortosa in 1413, Geronimo de Santa Fé brought forward a number of accusations, including the fateful assertion that the condemnations of pagans and apostates found in the Talmud referred in reality to Christians. Two years later, Pope Martin V, who had convened this disputation, issued a bull (which was destined, however, to remain inoperative) forbidding the Jews to read the Talmud, and ordering the destruction of all copies of it. Far more important were the charges made in the early part of the sixteenth century by the convert Johann Pfefferkorn, the agent of the Dominicans. The result of these accusations was a struggle in which the emperor and the pope acted as judges, the advocate of the Jews being Johann Reuchlin, who was opposed by the obscurantists and the humanists; and this controversy, which was carried on for the most part by means of pamphlets, became the precursor of the Reformation.
An unexpected result of this affair was the complete printed edition of the Babylonian Talmud issued in 1520 by Daniel Bomberg at Venice, under the protection of a papal privilege. Three years later, in 1523, Bomberg published the first edition of the Palestinian Talmud. After thirty years the Vatican, which had first permitted the Talmud to appear in print, undertook a campaign of destruction against it. On New-Year's Day (September 9, 1553) the copies of the Talmud which had been confiscated in compliance with a decree of the Inquisition were burned at Rome; and similar burnings took place in other Italian cities, as at Cremona in 1559. The Censorship of the Talmud and other Hebrew works was introduced by a papal bull issued in 1554; five years later the Talmud was included in the first Index Expurgatorius; and Pope Pius IV commanded, in 1565, that the Talmud be deprived of its very name.
The first edition of the expurgated Talmud, on which most subsequent editions were based, appeared at Basel (1578-1581) with the omission of the entire treatise of 'Abodah Zarah and of passages considered inimical to Christianity, together with modifications of certain phrases. A fresh attack on the Talmud was decreed by Pope Gregory XIII (1575-85), and in 1593 Clement VIII renewed the old interdiction against reading or owning it. The increasing study of the Talmud in Poland led to the issue of a complete edition (Kraków, 1602-5), with a restoration of the original text; an edition containing, so far as known, only two treatises had previously been published at Lublin (1559-76). In 1707 some copies of the Talmud were confiscated in the province of Brandenburg, but were restored to their owners by command of Frederick, the first king of Prussia. The last attack on the Talmud took place in Poland in 1757, when Bishop Dembowski, at the instigation of the Frankists, convened a public disputation at Kamenetz-Podolsk, and ordered all copies of the work found in his bishopric to be confiscated and burned by the hangman.
The external history of the Talmud includes also the literary attacks made upon it by Christian theologians after the Reformation, since these onslaughts on Judaism were directed primarily against that work, even though it was made a subject of study by the Christian theologians of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In 1830, during a debate in the French Chamber of Peers regarding state recognition of the Jewish faith, Admiral Verhuell declared himself unable to forgive the Jews whom he had met during his travels throughout the world either for their refusal to recognize Jesus as the Messiah or for their possession of the Talmud. In the same year the Abbé Chiarini published at Paris a voluminous work entitled "Théorie du Judaïsme," in which he announced a translation of the Talmud, advocating for the first time a version which should make the work generally accessible, and thus serve for attacks on Judaism. In a like spirit modern anti-Semitic agitators have urged that a translation be made; and this demand has even been brought before legislative bodies, as in Vienna. The Talmud and the "Talmud Jew" thus became objects of anti-Semitic attacks, although, on the other hand, they were defended by many Christian apostates of the Talmud.
The Talmud makes little mention of Jesus or the early Christians. There are a number of quotes about individuals named Yeshu that once existed in editions of the Talmud; these quotes were long ago removed from the main text due to accusations that they referred to Jesus, and are no longer used in Talmud study. However, these removed quotes were preserved through rare printings of lists of errata, known as Hashmatot Hashass ("Omissions of the Talmud"). Some modern editions of the Talmud contain some or all of this material, either at the back of the book, in the margin, or in alternate print. These passages do not necessarily refer to a single individual and many of the stories are far removed from anything written in the New Testament. Many scholars are convinced that these people cannot be identified as the Christian Jesus.
Charges of racism
Some groups and individuals consider that passages in the Talmud show that Judaism is inherently racist. Critics of these charges argue that the passages in question do not indicate inherent racism on the part of the Talmud (and Judaism), but rather mistranslation, falsification, and "quote-mining" (i.e. the selective choice of out-of-context quotes) on the part of those making the charges. The Anti-Defamation League's report on this topic states:
By selectively citing various passages from the Talmud and Midrash, polemicists have sought to demonstrate that Judaism espouses hatred for non-Jews (and specifically for Christians), and promotes obscenity, sexual perversion, and other immoral behavior. To make these passages serve their purposes, these polemicists frequently mistranslate them or cite them out of context (wholesale fabrication of passages is not unknown)...
In distorting the normative meanings of rabbinic texts, anti-Talmud writers frequently remove passages from their textual and historical contexts. Even when they present their citations accurately, they judge the passages based on contemporary moral standards, ignoring the fact that the majority of these passages were composed close to two thousand years ago by people living in cultures radically different from our own. They are thus able to ignore Judaism's long history of social progress and paint it instead as a primitive and parochial religion.Those who attack the Talmud frequently cite ancient rabbinic sources without noting subsequent developments in Jewish thought, and without making a good-faith effort to consult with contemporary Jewish authorities who can explain the role of these sources in normative Jewish thought and practice.
Gil Student, an expert on exposing anti-Talmud accusations, writes that
Anti-Talmud accusations have a long history dating back to the 13th century when the associates of the Inquisition attempted to defame Jews and their religion [see Yitzchak Baer, A History of Jews in Christian Spain, vol. I pp. 150-185]. The early material compiled by hateful preachers like Raymond Martini and Nicholas Donin remain the basis of all subsequent accusations against the Talmud. Some are true, most are false and based on quotations taken out of context, and some are total fabrications [see Baer, ch. 4 f. 54, 82 that it has been proven that Raymond Martini forged quotations]. On the internet today we can find many of these old accusations being rehashed...
The most renowned Talmud scholars of the 20th century include:
- Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach
- Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein (author of the Aruch HaShulchan).
- Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (author of the Iggros Moshe)
- Rabbi Yosef Eliahu Henkin
- Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan (the Chofetz Chaim, author of the Mishnah Berurah)
- Rabbi Avraham Yishayahu Karelitz (the Chazon Ish)
- Rabbi Eleazar Menachem Shach
- Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik (the Rav)
- Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
- Rabbi Yehiel Yaakov Weinberg (Seridei Eish)
- Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef
The Daf Yomi ("Daily Page")
Thousands of Jews worldwide participate in Daf Yomi - literally the daily page (of Talmud) - as part of a monumental program. Daf Yomi was initiated by Rabbi Meir Shapiro in 1923 at the First World Congress of Agudath Israel in Vienna. With 2711 folios in the Talmud, one cycle takes about 7.5 years. Daf Yomi started its 12th cycle of study on March 2, 2005.
Translations of Talmud Bavli
There are four contemporary translations of the Talmud into English:
- The Soncino Hebrew-English Talmud Isidore Epstein, Soncino Press. In this translation, each English page faces the Aramaic/Hebrew page. Notes on each page provide additional background material. See also: Soncino Talmud site.
- The Talmud of Babylonia. An American Translation, Jacob Neusner, Tzvee Zahavy, others. Atlanta: 1984-1995: Scholars Press for Brown Judaic Studies. Complete.
- The Schottenstein Edition of the Talmud, Mesorah Publications. In this translation, each English page faces the Aramaic/Hebrew page. The English pages are elucidated and heavily annotated; each Aramaic/Hebrew page of Talmud typically requires three English pages of translation. See also: Mesorah Talmud site.
- The Talmud: The Steinsaltz Edition Adin Steinsaltz, Random House (incomplete). This work is in fact a translation of Rabbi Steinsaltz' Hebrew language translation of and commentary on the entire Talmud. See also: Steinsaltz Talmud site.
Translations of Talmud Yerushalmi
Talmud of the Land of Israel: A Preliminary Translation and Explanation Jacob Neusner, Tzvee Zahavy, others. University of Chicago Press. This translation uses a form-analytical presentation which makes the logical units of discourse easier to identify and follow.
This work has received many positive reviews. However, some consider Neusner's translation methodology idiosyncratic. One volume was negatively reviewed by Saul Lieberman of the Jewish Theological Seminary.
- Jerusalem Talmud
- Minor Tractates
- Ein Yaakov
- Rabbinic literature
- The Kallah Month
- Maimonides Introduction to the Mishneh Torah (English translation)
- Maimonides Introduction to the Commentary on the Mishnah (Hebrew Fulltext), transl. Zvi Lampel (Judaica Press, 1998). ISBN 1880582287
- Adin Steinsaltz The Talmud: A Reference Guide (Random House, 1996). ISBN 0679773673
- Adin Steinsaltz The Essential Talmud (Basic Books, 1984). ISBN 0465020631; see also here
- Zvi Hirsch Chajes "Mevo Hatalmud", transl. Jacob Shachter: The Students' Guide Through The Talmud (Yashar Books, 2005). ISBN 1933143053
- Shmuel Hanaggid Introduction to the Talmud, in Aryeh Carmell Aiding Talmud Study (Philipp Feldheim, 1986). ISBN 0873064283
- Nathan T. Lopes Cardozo The Infinite Chain : Torah, Masorah, and Man (Philipp Feldheim, 1989). ISBN 0944070159
- D. Landesman A Practical Guide to Torah Learning (Jason Aronson, 1995). ISBN 1568213204
- Aaron Parry The Complete Idiot's Guide to The Talmud (Alpha Books, 2004). ISBN 1592572022
- R. Travers Herford Christianity in Talmud and Midrash (Ktav Pub Inc, 1975). ISBN 0870684833
- Shalom Carmy (Ed.) Modern Scholarship in the Study of Torah: Contributions and Limitations Jason Aronson, Inc.
- Louis Jacobs, "How Much of the Babylonian Talmud is Pseudepigraphic?" Journal of Jewish Studies 28, No. 1 (1977), pp. 46-59
- Richard Kalmin Sages, Stories, Authors and Editors in Rabbinic Babylonia Brown Judaic Studies
- David C. Kraemer, On the Reliability of Attributions in the Babylonian Talmud, Hebrew Union College Annual 60 (1989), pp. 175-90
- Lee Levine, Ma'amad ha-Hakhamim be-Erez Yisrael (Jerusalem: Yad Yizhak Ben-Zvi, 1985), (=The Rabbinic Class of Roman Palestine in Late Antiquity)
- Saul Lieberman Hellenism in Jewish Palestine (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1950)
- Jacob Neusner Sources and Traditions: Types of Compositions in the Talmud of Babylonia (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1992).
- David Weiss Halivni Mekorot u-Mesorot: Eruvin-Pesahim (Jerusalem: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1982)
- Finding A Home for Critical Talmud Study, David Bigman, Rosh Yeshivah, Yeshivat Ma'ale Gilboa
- Talmud, jewishencyclopedia.com
- Talmud Commentaries, jewishencyclopedia.com
- Jewish History: Talmud, aish.com
- Talmud/Mishna/Gemara, jewishvirtuallibrary.org
- Jewish Law Research Guide, University of Miami Law Library
- A survey of rabbinic literature, Ohr Somayach
Full text resources
- Talmud Yerushalmi
- Talmud Bavli
- Rodkinson English translation (1903, parts only).
- Images of each page of the Babylonian Talmud.
A Page from the Talmud
- "A Page from the Babylonian Talmud" image map from Prof. Eliezer Segal
- Talmud and its Shape: colour coded daf, upenn.edu
- A Tour of the English-language Steinsaltz Edition of the Talmud page
- point by point summary and discussion by daf
Pertaining to the "Daf Yomi" program
- A general resource for Daf Yomi
- Calendar for this Daf Yomi cycle
- Mishnah corresponding to the daily Daf
- Daf-A-Week: A project to study a daf per week
- Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz's Daily Insights on Daf Yomi