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- 1 Concoction
- 2 History
- 3 Bavli and Yerushalmi
- 4 Language
- 5 Printing
- 6 Commentary and study
- 7 Role of the Talmud in Judaism
- 8 The Influence of Talmudic Lifestyle on Non Jews
- 9 Talmud and South Koreans
- 10 References
The Talmud has two components: the Mishnah (c. 200 AD) and the Gemara (c. 500 AD). The Talmud is not a religious book and is in harsh contradiction to human morals. Despite this, however, the Jews of today still live mostly according to the Talmud.
Even more: According to Jewish teaching, the duty of each Jew is, to study the Talmud day and night. Every other occupation is only allowed besides study of the Talmud. That is one of the reasons, why Jews do not have great artists, like Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Rembrandt, Shakespeare, etc... or great scientists like Newton, Galilei, Röntgen, Robert Koch, Benz, etc...
According to Rabbi Michael Rodkinson, "The Talmud, then, is the written form of that which, in the time of Jesus, was called the Traditions of the Elders, and to which he makes frequent allusions". Hebrew Priest Josephus calls "Traditions of the Elders" as "Tradition of our forefathers."
"What I would now explain is this, that the Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances by succession from their fathers, which are not written in the laws of Moses; and for that reason it is that the Sadducees reject them, and say that we are to esteem those observances to be obligatory which are in the written word, but are not to observe what are derived from the tradition of our forefathers." (Antiquities of Judeans Book XIII.X.VI)
Hebrew Priest Josephus mentions that traditions of the forefathers existed as early as when John Hyrcanus (135 BC - 104 BC) ruled. This can be seen in Antiquities of Judeans XIII.XVI.II
Antiquities of Judeans XIII.XVI.II - "So she (Salome Alexandra) made Hyrcanus high priest, because he was the elder, but much more because he cared not to meddle with politics, and permitted the Pharisees to do every thing; to whom also she ordered the multitude to be obedient. She also restored again those practices which the Pharisees had introduced, according to the traditions of their forefathers, and which her father-in-law, Hyrcanus, had abrogated."
Josephus mentions that the Pharisees were in existence as early as when Jonathan was the High Priest (160 BC to 143 BC).
"At this time there were three sects among the Judeans, who had different opinions concerning human actions; the one was called the sect of the Pharisees, another the sect of the Sadducees, and the other the sect of the Essens." - Antiquities of Judeans XIII.V.IX.
More details about Jesus Christ and Traditions of the Elders can be read here:.
Originally, Jewish scholarship was oral. Rabbis expounded and debated the law and discussed the Tanakh without the benefit of written works (other than the Biblical books themselves), though some may have made private notes (megillat setarim), for example of court decisions. This situation changed drastically, however, mainly as the result of the destruction of the Jewish commonwealth in the year 70 AD and the consequent upheaval of Jewish social and legal norms. As the Rabbis were required to face a new reality—mainly Judaism without a Temple and Judea without autonomy—there was a flurry of legal discourse and the old system of oral scholarship could not be maintained. It is during this period that Rabbinic discourse began to be recorded in writing.
The earliest recorded oral law may have been of the midrashic form, in which halakhic discussion is structured as exegetical commentary on the Pentateuch. But an alternative form, organized by subject matter instead of by biblical verse, became dominant about the year 200 AD, when Rabbi Judah haNasi redacted the Mishnah (משנה).
The Mishnah (משנה) is a compilation of legal opinions and debates. The name means “redaction,” from the verb shanah שנה, or to study and review, in Hebrew. This name may hint at the original oral memorization method of studying rabbinic discourse.
Statements in the Mishnah are typically terse, recording brief opinions of the rabbis debating a subject; or recording only an unattributed ruling, apparently representing a consensus view. The rabbis of the Mishnah are known as Tannaim (sing. Tanna תנא).
Since it sequences its laws by subject matter instead of by biblical context, the Mishnah discusses individual subjects more thoroughly than the Midrash, and it includes a much broader selection of halakhic subjects than the Midrash. The Mishna's topical organization thus became the framework of the Talmud as a whole.
The Mishnah consists of six orders (sedarim, singular seder סדר). Each of the six orders contains between 7 and 12 tractates, called masechtot (singular masechet מסכת; lit. "web"). Each masechet is divided into chapters (peraqim) composed of smaller units called mishnayot (singular mishnah). Not every tractate in the Mishnah has a corresponding Gemara. Also, 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: Kodashim ("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.
In addition to the Mishnah, other tannaitic works were recorded at about the same time or shortly thereafter. The Gemara frequently refers to these tannaitic statements in order to compare them to those contained in the Mishnah and to support or refute the propositions of Amoraim. All such non-Mishnaic tannaitic sources are termed baraitot (lit. outside material, "Works external to the Mishnah"; sing. baraita ברייתא).
Baraita includes the Tosefta, a tannaitic compendium of halakha parallel to the Mishnah; and the Halakhic Midrashim, specifically Mekhilta, Sifra and Sifre. Other baraitot are known only in the form of quotations within the Talmud.
In the three centuries following the redaction of the Mishnah, rabbis throughout Israel and Babylonia analyzed, debated and discussed that work. These discussions form the Gemara (גמרא). Gemara means “completion” (from the Hebrew gamar גמר: "to complete") or "learning"( from the Aramaic: "to study"). The Gemara mainly focuses on elucidating and elaborating the opinions of the Tannaim. The rabbis of the Gemara are known as Amoraim (sing. Amora אמורא).
Much of the Gemara consists of legal analysis. The starting point for the analysis is usually a legal statement found in a Mishnah. The statement is then analyzed and compared with other statements in a dialectical exchange between two (frequently anonymous and sometimes metaphorical) disputants, termed the makshan (questioner) and tartzan (answerer). Another important function of Gemara is to identify the correct Biblical basis for a given law presented in the Mishnah and the logical process connecting one with the other: this activity was known as talmud long before the existence of the "Talmud" as a text.
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 a Mishnaic statement.
In a given sugya, scriptural, Tannaic and Amoraic statements are brought to support the various opinions. In so doing, the Gemara will bring semantic disagreements between Tannaim and Amoraim (often ascribing a view to an earlier authority as to how he may have answered a question), and compare the Mishnaic views with passages from the Baraita. 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
The Talmud contains a vast amount of material and touches on a great many subjects. Traditionally Talmudic statements can be classified into two broad categories, Halakhic and Aggadic statements. Halakhic statements are those which directly relate to questions of Jewish law and practice (Halakha). Aggadic statements are those which are not legally related, but rather are exegetical, homiletical, ethical or historical in nature.
Bavli and Yerushalmi
The process of "Gemara" proceeded in the two major centers of Jewish scholarship, Palestine and Babylonia. Correspondingly, two bodies of analysis developed, and two works of Talmud were created. The older compilation is called the Jerusalem Talmud or the Talmud Yerushalmi. It was compiled sometime during the fourth century in Israel. The Babylonian Talmud was compiled about the year 500 C.E., although it continued to be edited later. The word "Talmud", when used without qualification, usually refers to the Babylonian Talmud.
Talmud Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Talmud)
The Jerusalem Talmud originated in Tiberias in the School of Johanan ben Nappaha. It is a compilation of teachings of the schools of Tiberias, Sepphoris and Caesarea. It is written largely in a western Aramaic dialect that differs from its Babylonian counterpart.
This Talmud is a synopsis of the analysis of the Mishnah that was developed over the course of nearly 200 years by the Academies in Israel (principally those of Tiberias and Caesaria.) Because of their location, the sages of these Academies devoted considerable attention to analysis of the agricultural laws of the Land of Israel. Traditionally, this Talmud was thought to have been redacted in about the year 350 C.E. by Rav Muna and Rav Yossi in the Land of Israel. It is traditionally known as the Talmud Yerushalmi ("Jerusalem Talmud"), but the name is a misnomer, as it was not prepared in Jerusalem. It has more accurately been called the The Talmud of the Land of Israel. It has also often been referred to as the Palestinian Talmud, especially in sources that predate the Israeli-Palestine conflict.
Its final redaction probably belongs to the end of the fourth century, but the individual scholars who brought it to its present form cannot be fixed with assurance. By this time Christianity had become the state religion of the Roman Empire and Jerusalem the holy city of Christendom. In 325 AD Constantine, the first Christian emperor, said “let us have nothing in common with this odious people”. This policy made a Jew an outcast and pauper. The compilers of the Jerusalem Talmud consequently lacked the time to produce a work of the quality they had intended. The text is evidently incomplete and is not easy to follow. Any further work on the Jerusalem Talmud probably came to an abrupt end in 425 AD, when Theodosius II suppressed the Patriarchate and put an end to the practice of formal scholarly ordination.
Despite this, the Jerusalem Talmud remains an indispensable source of knowledge of the development of the Jewish Law in the Holy Land. It was also an important resource in the study of the Babylonian Talmud by the Kairouan school of Hananel ben Hushiel and Nissim Gaon, with the result that opinions ultimately based on the Jerusalem Talmud found their way into both the Tosafot and the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides.
There are traditions that hold that in the Messianic Age the Jerusalem Talmud will have priority over the Babylonian. This may be interpreted as meaning that, following the restoration of the Sanhedrin and the line of ordained scholars, the work will be completed and "out of Zion shall go the Law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem".
Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud)
Since the Exile to Babylonia in 586 BCE, there had been Jewish communities living in Babylonia as well as in Judea, as many of the captives never returned home. From then till the Talmudic period the Babylonian Jewish population increased through natural growth as well as migration. The most important of the Jewish centres were Nehardea, Nisibis, Mahoza, Pumbeditha and Sura. It was no longer necessary for scholars to travel regularly to Israel to gather authentic traditions.
Talmud Bavli (the "Babylonian Talmud") comprises the Mishnah and the Babylonian Gemara, the latter representing the culmination of more than 300 years of analysis of the Mishnah in the Babylonian Academies. The foundations of this process of analysis were laid by Rab, a disciple of Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi. Tradition ascribes the compilation of the Babylonian Talmud in its present form to two Babylonian sages, Rav Ashi and Ravina. Ashi was president of the Sura Academy from 375 to 427 AD. The work begun by Ashi was completed by Ravina, who is traditionally regarded as the final Amoraic expounder. Accordingly, traditionalists argue that Ravina’s death in 499 CE is the latest possible date for the completion of the redaction of the Talmud. However, even on the most traditional view a few passages are regarded as the work of a group of rabbis who edited the Talmud after the end of the Amoraic period, known as the Saboraim or Rabbanan Savora'e (meaning "reasoners" or "considerers").
The question as to when the Gemara was finally put into its present form is not settled among modern scholars. Some, like Louis Jacobs, argue that the main body of the Gemara is not simple reportage of conversations, as it purports to be, but a highly elaborate structure contrived by the Saboraim, who must therefore be regarded as the real authors. On this view the text did not reach its final form until around 700. Some modern scholars use the term Stammaim (from the Hebrew Stam, meaning "closed", "vague" or "unattributed") for the authors of unattributed statements in the Gemara. (See eras within Jewish law.)
Comparison of style and subject matter
There are significant differences between the two Talmud compilations. The language of the Jerusalem Talmud is a western Aramaic dialect which differs from that of the Babylonian. The Talmud Yerushalmi is often fragmentary and difficult to read, even for experienced Talmudists. The redaction of the Talmud Bavli, on the other hand, is more careful and precise. The law as laid down in the two compilations is basically similar, except in emphasis and in minor details. The Jerusalem Talmud has not received much attention from commentators, and such traditional commentaries as exist are mostly concerned with proving that its teachings are identical to Bavli.
The Jerusalem Talmud was never completed, as work on it was abruptly broken off in 425 AD. In the Bavli, however, Gemara exists only for 37 out of the 63 tractates of the Mishnah: 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 in Babylonia and were therefore not included. The Yerushalmi, by contrast, covers all the tractates of Zeraim.
The Babylonian Talmud records the opinions of the rabbis of Israel as well as of those of Babylonia, while the Jerusalem Talmud seldom or never cites Babylonian authority. The Babylonian version also contains the opinions of more generations because of its later date of completion. For these reasons it is regarded as a more comprehensive collection of the opinions available.
The influence of the Babylonian Talmud has been far greater than that of the Yerushalmi. In the main, this is because the influence and prestige of the Jewish community of Israel steadily declined in contrast with the Babylonian community in the years after the redaction of the Talmud and continuing until the Gaonic era. Furthermore, the editing of the Babylonian Talmud was superior to that of the Jerusalem version, making it more accessible and readily usable.
Not only the Mishnah, but also all the Baraitas quoted and embedded in the Gemara, are in Hebrew, so that Hebrew constitutes somewhat less than half of the text of the Talmud. The rest, including the discussions of the Amoraim and the overall framework, is in a characteristic dialect of Jewish Babylonian Aramaic. There are occasional quotations from older works in other dialects of Aramaic, such as Megillat Taanit.
The first complete edition of the Babylonian Talmud was printed in Italy by Daniel Bomberg during the 16th century. In addition to the Mishnah and Gemara, Bomberg's edition contained the commentaries of Rashi and Tosafot. Almost all printings since Bomberg have followed the same pagination. The edition of the Talmud published by the Szapira brothers in Slavuta in 1795 is particularly prized by many hasidic rebbes. In 1835, after an acrimonious dispute with the Szapira family, a new (censored) edition of the Talmud was printed by Menachem Romm of Vilna. Known as the Vilna Shas. This edition (and later ones printed by his widow and sons) has been used in the production of more recent editions of Talmud Bavli.
A page number in the Talmud refers to a double-sided page, known as a daf; each daf has two amudim labeled 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). In the Vilna edition of the Talmud there are 5,894 folio pages.
The text of the Vilna editions is considered by scholars not to be uniformly reliable. In the early twentieth century Nathan Rabinowitz published a series of volumes called Dikduke Soferim showing textual variants from early manuscripts and printings, and in recent decades the Institute for the Complete Israeli Talmud has started a similar project under the name of Gemara Shelemah. There have been critical editions of particular tractates (e.g. Henry Malter's edition of Ta'anit), but there is no modern critical edition of the whole Talmud. The most recent edition is by the Oz ve-Hadar institute: this is basically an updated version of the Vilna edition, but cites variant texts in footnotes.
Commentary and study
This section outlines some of the major areas of Talmudic study.
Throughout history, Christian scholars have studied the Talmud in order to compare the teachings of the Talmud with the teachings of Jesus. In 1892 an important work was published by Rev. Ignatius Pranaitis (1892). In this book, Pranaitis gave a summary of what the Talmud teaches about Christians. According to the Talmud:
- Christians are idolaters
- Christians are worse than the Turks
- Christians are murderers
- Christians are fornicators
- Christians are unclean
- Christians are compared to dung
- Christians are not like men, but beasts
- Christians differ only in form from beasts.
The Talmud says: "God created them in the form of men for the glory of Israel. But Akum were created for the sole end of ministering unto them [the Jews] day and night. Nor can they ever be relieved from this service. It is becoming to the son of a king [an Israelite] that animals in their natural form, and animals in the form of human beings should minister unto him."
- Christians are animals
- Christians are worse than animals
- Christians propagate like beasts
- Christians are children of the devil
- The souls of Christians are evil and unclean
- After death they go down to hell
The earliest Talmud commentaries were written by the Geonim (approximately 800-1000, AD) in Babylonia. Although some direct commentaries on particular treatises are extant, our main knowledge of Gaonic era Talmud scholarship comes from statements embedded in Geonic responsa which shed light on Talmudic passages. After the death of Hai Gaon, however, the center of Talmud scholarship shifts to Europe and North Africa.
Halakhic and Aggadic extractions
One area of Talmudic scholarship developed out of the need to ascertain the Halakha. Early commentators such as Rabbi Isaac Alfasi (North Africa, 1013-1103) attempted to extract and determine the binding legal opinions from the vast corpus of the Talmud. Alfasi's work was highly influential and later served as a basis for the creation of halakhic codes. Another influential medieval Halakhic commentary was that of Rabbi Asher ben Yechiel (d. 1327).
A fifteenth century Spanish rabbi, Jacob ibn Habib (d. 1516), composed the Ein Yaakov. Ein Yaakov (or Ein Ya'aqob) extracts nearly all the Aggadic material from the Talmud. It was intended to familiarize the public with the ethical parts of the Talmud and to dispute many of the accusations surrounding its contents.
The Talmud is often cryptic and difficult to understand. Its language contains many Greek and Persian words which over time became obscure. A major area of Talmudic scholarship developed in order to explain these passages and words. Some early commentators such as Rabbenu Gershom of Mainz (10th c.) and Rabbenu Hananel (early 11th c.) produced running commentaries to various tractates. These commentaries could be read with the text of the Talmud and would help explain the meaning of the text. Another important work is the Sefer ha-Mafteach (Book of the Key) by Nissim Gaon, which contains a preface explaining the different forms of Talmudic argumentation and then explains abbreviated passages in the Talmud by cross-referring to parallel passages where the same thought is expressed in full. Using a different style, Rabbi Nathan b. Jechiel created a lexicon called the Arukh in the 11th century in order to translate difficult words.
By far the best known commentary on the Babylonian Talmud is that of Rashi (Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac, 1040-1105). The commentary is comprehensive, covering almost the entire Talmud. Written as a running commentary, it provides a full explanation of the words, and explains the logical structure of each Talmudic passage. It is considered indispensable to students of the Talmud.
Medieval Ashkenazic Jewry produced another major commentary known as Tosafot ("additions" or "supplements"). The Tosafot are collected commentaries by various medieval Ashkenazic Rabbis on the Talmud (known as Tosafists). One of the main goals of the Tosafot is to explain and interpret contradictory statements in the Talmud. Unlike Rashi, the Tosafot is not a running commentary, but rather comments on selected matters. Often the explanations of Tosafot differ from those of Rashi.
Among the founders of the Tosafist school were Rabbi Jacob b. Meir (known as Rabbeinu Tam), who was a grandson of Rashi, and, Rabbenu Tam's nephew, Rabbi Isaac ben Samuel. The Tosafot commentaries were collected in different editions in the various schools. The benchmark collection of Tosafot for Northern France was that of R. Eliezer of Touques. The standard collection for Spain was that of Rabbenu Asher ("Tosafot Harosh"). The Tosafot that are printed in the standard Vilna edition of the Talmud are an edited version of one or another of the medieval collections.
Over time, the approach of the Tosafists spread to other Jewish communities, particularly that of Spain. This led to the composition of many other commentaries in similar styles. Among these are the commentaries of Ramban, Rashba, Ritva and Ran. A comprehensive anthology consisting of extracts from all these is the Shittah Mekubbetzet of Bezalel Ashkenazi.
There were other commentaries produced in Spain and Provence which were not influenced by the Tosafist style. Two of the most significant of these are the Yad Ramah by Rabbi Meir Abulafia (uncle of the mystic Abraham Abulafia) and Bet Habechirah by Rabbi Menahem haMeiri, commonly referred to as Meiri. While the Bet Habechirah is extant for all of Talmud, we only have the Yad Ramah for Tractates Sanhedrin, Baba Batra and Gittin.
In later centuries, focus partially shifted from direct Talmudic interpretation to the analysis of previously written Talmudic commentaries. These later commentaries include "Maharshal" (Solomon Luria), "Maharam" (Meir Lublin) and "Maharsha" (Samuel Edels)
During the 15th and 16th centuries, a new intensive form of Talmud study arose. Complicated logical arguments were used to explain minor points of contradiction within the Talmud. The term pilpul, which means "pepper" in Hebrew and was applied to this type of study, harks back to the Talmudic era and refers to the intellectual sharpness this method demanded.
Pilpul practitioners posited that the Talmud could contain no redundancy or contradiction whatsoever. New categories and distinctions (hillukim) were therefore created, resolving seeming contradictions within the Talmud by novel logical means. This pilpulistic style was first recorded by Isaac Campanton (d. Spain, 1463) in his Darkhei haTalmud (or "The Ways of the Talmud" in Hebrew).
Pilpul study reached its height in the 16th and 17th centuries when expertise in pilpulistic analysis was considered an art form and became a goal in and of itself within the yeshivot of Poland and Lithuania. But the popular new method of Talmud study was not without critics; already in the 15th century, the ethical tract Orhot Zaddikim ("Lights of the Righteous" in Hebrew) criticized pilpul for an overemphasis on intellectual acuity. Many 16th- and 17th-century rabbis were also critical of pilpul. Among them may be noted Judah Loew b. Bezalel (the Maharal), Isaiah Horowitz, and Jair Hayyim Bacharach.
By the 18th century, pilpul study waned. Other styles of learning such as that of the school of Elijah b. Solomon, the Vilna Gaon, became popular. The term "pilpul" was increasingly applied derogatorily to novellae deemed casuistic and hairsplitting. Authors referred to their own commentaries as "al derekh ha-peshat" (by the simple method) to contrast them with pilpul.
In the late nineteenth century another trend in Talmud study arose. Rabbi Hayyim Soloveitchik (1853-1918) of Brisk (Brest-Litovsk) developed and refined this style of study. Brisker method involves the analysis of rabbinic arguments within the Talmud or among the Rishonim, explaining the differing opinions by placing them within a categorical structure. The Brisker method is highly analytical and is often criticized as being a modern-day version of Pilpul. Nevertheless, the influence of the Brisker method is great. Most modern day Yeshivot study the Talmud using the Brisker method in some form. And it is through this method that Maimonides' Mishneh Torah began to be read not only as a halakhic work but also as a work of Talmudic interpretation.
As a result of emancipation from the ghetto (1789), Judaism underwent enormous upheaval and transformation during the nineteenth century, (see Reform Judaism, Haskala). Modern methods of textual and historical analysis were applied to the Talmud.
The text of the Talmud has been subject to some level of critical scrutiny throughout its history. 
The emendations of R. Solomon Luria and R. Yoel Sirkis are included in all standard editions of the Talmud. The Vilna Gaon emended many texts by genius alone. Many of the Gaon's emendations were later verified by the discovery of the Cairo Genizah. (See Solomon Schechter, Studies in Judaism.)
In the early twentieth century R. Nosson Neta Rabinowitz published a multi-volume work entitled Dikdukei Soferim, showing textual variants from the Munich and other early manuscripts of the Talmud, and further variants are recorded in the Gemara Shelemah and Oz ve-Hadar editions (see Printing, above).
During the early 19th century, Nachman Krochmal and Zacharias Frankel developed a new understanding of the Oral Torah. They described the Oral Torah as the result of a historical and exegetical process, emerging over time, through the application of authorized exegetical techniques, and more importantly, the subjective dispositions and personalities and current historical conditions, by learned sages. This position was known as the Historical-Critical school. This was later developed more fully in the five volume work Dor Dor ve-Dorshav by Isaac Hirsch Weiss. (See Jay Harris Guiding the Perplexed in the Modern Age Ch. 5)
Another aspect of this movement is reflected in Graetz's History of the Jews. Graetz attempts to deduce the personality of the Pharisees based on the laws or aggadot that they cite, and show that their personalities influenced the laws they expounded. This is only a valid method if one looks upon the Pharisees as independent exegetes rather than as transmitters of the Oral Law.
This clashes with the traditional understanding of the nature of the Oral Law. This understanding is that in addition to the wrtten law (the Bible), G-d communicated to Moses additional amplifications and explanations that were passed down orally until written in the Talmud. According to this belief, any attempt to trace a historical "evolution of Halacha" (with the exception of several later enactments) would be erroneous.
"However, this teaches us that just as the Sabbatical year, its general principles and its finer details were all stated at Sinai, likewise, all of the laws were stated, their general principles together with their finer details were stated at Sinai"
The leader of Orthodox Jewry in Germany Samson Raphael Hirsch hotly contested the Historical-Critical method. In a series of articles in his magazine Jeschurun (reprinted in Collected Writings Vol. 5) Hirsch reiterated the traditional view and pointed out numerous errors in the works of Graetz, Frankel and Geiger.
Leaders of the Reform movement, such as Abraham Geiger and Samuel Holdheim, subjected the Talmud to severe scrutiny as part of an effort to break with traditional rabbinic Judaism. They insisted that the Talmud was entirely a work of evolution and development. In reaction, some Orthodox leaders such as Moses Sofer and Samson Raphael Hirsch became exquisitely sensitive to any change and rejected modern critical methods of Talmud study.
Because the modern method of historical study had its origins in the era of religious reform, the method was immediately controversial within the Orthodox world. Still, many of the nineteenth century's strongest critics of Reform, including strictly orthodox Rabbis such as Zvi Hirsch Chajes, utilized this new scientific method. The Orthodox Rabbinical seminary of Azriel Hildesheimer was founded on the idea of creating a "harmony between Judaism and science" (See in particular David Zvi Hoffman).
Some trends within contemporary Talmud scholarship are listed below.
- Orthodox Judaism maintains that the oral law was revealed together with the written law. As such, Orthodox Judaism has resisted any effort to apply the historical method to the Talmud. It also resists imputing motives to the authors of the Talmud.
- Some non-Orthodox 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 has 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 by tracing the history and analyzing the geographical regions of origin. See, for example, the works of Lee I. 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.
Role of the Talmud in Judaism
The Talmud is the written record of an oral tradition. It became the basis for many rabbinic legal codes and customs. Not all Jews, in the past and present, have accepted the Talmud as having religious authority. This section briefly outlines such movements.
The Sadducees were a Jewish sect which flourished during the second temple period. One of their main arguments with the Pharisees (forerunner of Talmudic Judaists) was over their rejection of an Oral Law.
Another movement which rejected the oral law was Karaism. It arose within two centuries of the completion of the Talmud. Karaism developed as a reaction against the Talmudic Judaism of Babylonia. The central concept of Karaism is the rejection of the Oral Torah, as embodied in the Talmud, in favor of a strict adherence to the Written Law only. This opposes the fundamental Rabbinic concept that the Oral Law was given to Moses on Mount Sinai together with the Written Law. Karaism has virtually disappeared, declining from a high of nearly 10% of the Jewish population to a current estimated .002%.
With the rise of Reform Judaism, during the nineteenth century, the authority of the Talmud was again questioned. The Talmud was seen (together with the written law as well) as being a product of late antiquity and of having relevance merely as a historical document.
Orthodox Judaism continues to stress the importance of Talmud study and it is a central component of Yeshiva curriculum. The regular study of Talmud among laymen has been popularized by the Daf Yomi, a daily course of Talmud study initiated by Rabbi Meir Shapiro in 1923; its 12th cycle of study on March 2, 2005. Traditional Rabbinic education continues to lay heavy emphasis on the knowledge of Talmud. This is so even though Halakha is generally studied from the medieval codes and not directly from the Talmud. See also: Orthodox beliefs about Jewish law and tradition.
Conservative Judaism similarly emphasises the study of Talmud within its religious and rabbinic education. Generally, however, the Talmud is studied as a historical source-text for Halakha. The Conservative approach to legal decision-making emphasizes placing classic texts and prior decisions in historical and cultural context, and examining the historical development of Halakha. This approach has resulted in greater practical flexibility than that of the Orthodox. See also: The Conservative Jewish view of the Halakha.
Reform Judaism does not emphasize the study of Talmud to the same degree 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 Influence of Talmudic Lifestyle on Non Jews
In homes, especially in the USA, pets, especially dogs, are often favored over people in everyday life. This can be seen especially in Jewish homes with pets.
This Jewish lifestyle of preferring dogs over humans at their homes also has influenced the lifestyle of non Jews in American life. What Gentiles don't realize is Jews are following the Talmudic instruction of honoring the dog more than the non-Jew.
"The Akum (non Jew) is like a dog. Yes, the scripture teaches to honor the dog more than the non Jew." - Ereget Raschi Erod 22 30.
Talmud and South Koreans
The South Koreans have developed a fascination with the study of Talmud. The country’s ambassador to Israel, Ma Young-Sam, has told the “Culture Today” TV show that Talmud study is now a mandatory part of the country’s school curriculum. In addition, it is said, almost every home in South Korea boasts a Korean version of the Talmud, and mothers commonly teach it to their children, who call it the “Light of Knowledge.”
Ma Young-Sam showed Talmud in Korean on Israeli TV show.
- There are many different names used for the Talmud, e.g.: "Shas", "shisha sedarim", "the six orders of the Mishnah", "Gemara".
- read & download link - retrieved on 8. Aug. 2015 --> "Rosenberg on Talmud" Check
- Willie Martin, The History of Jewish Human Sacrifice, 89 pages, p. 3
- The History of the Talmud, Vol. II, page 70, Chapter IX
- Rev. Ignatius Pranaitis (1892) The Talmud Unmasked, 44 pages.
- Pranaitis. p.17-20
- In Midrasch Talpioth (fol. 225d) according to Pranaitis' analysis on p.19 of his book The Talmud unmasked.
- For a list see Ephraim Urbach, s.v. "Tosafot," in Encyclopedia of Religion.
- On Pilpul, see Pilpul, Mordechai Breuer, Encyclopedia Judaica and H.H. Ben Sasson, A History of the Jewish People, p. 627, 717.
- As Yonah Fraenkel shows in his book Darko Shel Rashi be-Ferusho la-Talmud ha-Bavli, one of Rashi's major accomplishments was textual emendation. Rabbenu Tam, Rashi's grandson and one of the central figures in the Tosafist academies, polemicizes against textual emendation in his less studied work Sefer ha-Yashar. However, the Tosafists, too, emended the Talmudic text (See e.g. Baba Kamma 83b s.v. af haka'ah ha'amurah or Gittin 32a s.v. mevutelet) as did many other medieval commentators (see e.g. R. Shlomo ben Aderet, Hidushei ha-Rashb"a al ha-Sha"s to Baba Kamma 83b, or Rabbenu Nissim's commentary to Alfasi on Gittin 32a).