Navigating The Talmud




1 = Mishna is the first major transcription of the oral law. Foreseeing the advent of the dispersion of the Jewish people throughout the world, Rabbi Judah the Prince composed the Mishna around the year 200.

2 = Gemara is a written record of analytical discussions of the Mishna, along with philosophy, ethics, and practical advice, by the rabbinic authorities who lived between 200 and 500. This is the main body of the Talmud, consisting of some 4,500 pages of text.

3 = Rashi is an acronym for Rabbi Shlomo Isaac, an 11th-century French commentator. Rashi explains the difficult terms and helps students understand the Gemara’s analysis and reasoning.

4 = Tosefos, which literally means “additions,” are collections of comments, generally based on Rashi, made by French and German rabbis between 1100 and 1300. These comments discuss conceptual issues raised in the Gemara, and contrast these with concepts raised in other Gemara texts.

5 = Hananel are comments by a 16th-century North African Talmudist.

6 = Eye of Justice, Mitzva Candle, by 16th-century Italian scholar Rabbi Joshua Boaz, includes notes referencing final legal decisions found in Maimonides‘ and others’ codes of Jewish law.

7 = Talmud Cross-References

8 = Light of the Bible includes references to Biblical quotations.

9 = Bach’s Annotations, textual emendations by 17th-century Polish scholar Rabbi Joel Sirkes, note variant texts that appear in early editions of the Talmud.

10 = Gra’s Annotations, concise notes by 18th-century Lithuanian scholar Vilna Gaon, suggest fascinating insights into legal rulings. Similar annotations by the Lubavitcher Rebbe and other 19th- and 20th-century scholars are planned for the new edition of the Talmud.

Click the image to see what a page spread from the Talmud looks like, with English translation.

Image Header © 2002 by Jonathan L. Hirshon

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