Pini Dunner is right to say that the Talmud is the most important Jewish Document, because it has caused more agony, death and devastation than anything else in the entire history of the nation. The Talmud was written by men who made an effort to further explain what was found in the torah. That is why the Talmud is the most important text in Judaism. Both professional and lay Talmudic scholarship is dedicated to determining the proper response to modern issues by intensive study of the Talmud. Engaging in Talmud study allows teens to enter relevant and deep conversations about their lived experience through the use of our most epic, ancient anthology. A. To a greater extent than the other main Jewish holy book, the Torah, the Talmud is a practical book about how to live. All Rights Reserved. get the best of the algemeiner straight to your inbox! The second part consists of a series of interpretative rules that are used to extract information from the often impenetrable text of the Torah. Josiah was confounded by what he read in the scroll, and sent it to Huldah the prophetess to inquire what it meant. Such a book could explain how the Talmud came to be and who reads it and why. 1. For this reason, even before the Talmud was complete, ancient rabbis had evolved such a complicated etiquette for Torah study that study became a religious ritual in its own right, indeed, in the opinion of many, the most sacred ritual that Jewish life had to offer. The powerful tug of pagan worship, combined with limited Torah knowledge among the people, often resulted in the abandonment of normative Judaism. Never miss the best stories and events for families, children and teens! Talmud is the recording of over 700 years of Jewish thought that touches every aspect of human experience. Thus study of the Talmud for its law became a chief activity of those in the community who were charged with teaching and enforcing that law. The three-letter root for the Hebrew word “teach” — LMD. The Talmud is a written collection of teachings that were originally spoken among Jewish scholars and rabbis. Their explanations are found scattered throughout Talmudic and especially Midrashic literature. This almost 2,000-year-old text flies under the radar -- but it's immensely important to Jewish life. In a paradox that determined the history of Judaism, the Talmud was Oral Torah in written form, and as such it became the clearest statement the Jew could hear of God’s very word. The message this conveys is that we must never limit our own Torah-study to teaching our children. Now, not all rabbis actually served as legal authorities. This would become the Talmud. The Talmud is a transcription of Torah she'baal'peh, the Oral Law (law that is meant to be transmitted orally). The Talmud also plays an important role in Conservative Judaism, although it is viewed as an evolutionary process that changes with the times. Historical relativity in general and text criticism in particular turn out to raise new religious issues, issues that earlier masters of the rabbinic tradition never had to face. Purists believed that the Oral Torah’s dynamism would be fatally compromised if any of it were written down. The Talmud is a remarkable compilation of ancient traditions that accompanied the Sinaitic Torah, collectively known as Torah-she’baal-peh, or the “Oral Torah.”. The Torah, also called the Jewish bible, contains the Laws of Moses that outline actions and codes of conduct expected of practitioners of the Jewish faith. Among their other intellectual enterprises, the rabbis of antiquity spent a great deal of time reading and explaining the Bible. It’s studying how law was made in an ancient civilization, giving a picture into the past. The Talmud is split into two parts. Many of these can be labeled practical. The Talmud is the written compilation of the Mishnah and the... See full answer below. Some used the train­ing in other ways, and some did not use it at all. Jews needed to know what their holy writings meant, and their ancient rabbis could tell them. The point is not that God dictated the entire Talmud to later rabbis in the same way some believed the Written Torah had been dictated to Moses, but rather that in the Talmud the Jew could find a clear expression of God’s will. Because Talmud is the study of Jewish jurisprudence. In addition to the Talmud there have been important commentaries written about it. . And if so, why would a Bible-believing Christian care about the insights and comments from Jewish rabbis, scholars, and sages? The Talmud (Hebrew for “study”) is one of the central works of the Jewish people. . The final version of the Talmud did not appear until many centuries later, but when it did, it contained a faithful record of discussions and statements by rabbis whose principle aim over hundreds of years had evidently been to formulate a body of knowledge that would both deliver the detailed information lacking in the Sinaitic Torah, while also generating continued enthusiastic discussion and innovation. The Talmud Is the Link Between Scripture and Jewish Practice The Hebrew Scripture (also known as Torah) is the bedrock of Jewish practice and beliefs. Talmud and Midrash, commentative and interpretative writings that hold a place in the Jewish religious tradition second only to the Bible (Old Testament).. The Torah is important because it contains written and oral laws central to the religion of Judaism. Replacing the Bible as the key book taught in Israel’s schools could help … The modern scholar, on the other hand, approaches the text for information, not “truth.” Contemporary academic scholars recognize that the Talmud, like any ancient document, must be studied with critical care: Scribes over the many centuries have permitted error to creep into their copies, and even the ancient rabbis themselves occasionally misremembered or misunderstood the traditions they were teaching their disciples. The Talmud, after the Torah, is considered the primary text of Jewish learning. And when the pendulum eventually swung back in favor of Torah law — as it always did — the nation would be hampered by its inability to correctly interpret the Sinaitic Torah. In its most ambitious expression, rabbinic thinking came to see this activity as not only a way to more toward God—it was also a way to be like God, for God too studies Torah, taught Rav Judah, three hours a day (Avodah Zarah 3b). “A biography of the Talmud--call it a bibliobiography--is welcome. To access the vast reservoirs of that knowledge, we must use the Oral Torah as our guide. Perhaps most important, it would explain to the uninitiated how to understand the Talmud's complicated logic. Modern historical consciousness actually makes the traditional inquiry more difficult than ever. Due to Roman persecution of the Jews, it became impossible to maintain the integrity of the Written Law by oral transmission, so the mishna and then the Talmud were transcribed for posterity. The Talmud, like the Mishnah before it, has always functioned as a training text for rabbis and their disciples. For most of Jewish history, Jews in various communities have constituted self-governing enclaves within the larger society, and from the time rabbis rose to prominence as leaders of Jewry their legal traditions provided the rules by which these enclaves lived. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the Talmud was the centerpiece of Jewish cultural life and was foundational to "all Jewish thought and aspirations", serving also as "the guide for the daily life" of Jews. In a rather more specialized sense, the Talmud was also of practical use in the study of Scripture. It is always assumed that the most important text of Judaism is the Torah. In earlier ages, the pious Jew normally approached this same text with one unchanging question in mind, a question itself received from the past: How does the God of Israel, the Creator of the Universe, want me to live? These traditions are made up of two distinct parts. This purist approach proved to be a disaster, however — and throughout this period, Jews and Judaism were in constant danger of vanishing completely. But while the Sadducees desperately tried to delegitimize Oral Torah as an aberration, they had nothing enduring to offer in exchange. First, Exodus 24:4 clearly states that Moshe (Moses) “wrote … In the end, therefore, the act of Talmud study was holy beyond the holiness to be found in the words of the text. Together with the Mishnah, these texts make up what is known as Rabbinic Judaism. The Torah itself is fully aware that it must be seen as being greater than the sum of its parts, as indicated by the statement (Deut. This is why traditional Judaism focuses so heavily on the study of the Talmud, as opposed to simply reading the text of the Torah. This “academic” function, as has been noted, may in fact be older than the applied-law function just mentioned. Why do you think the Talmud is so popular? Every Jew since that time owes their existence as a Jew not to the Sinaitic Torah — despite its superior sanctity and sacredness — but to the extraordinary body of knowledge that is the Talmud. The Talmud gives two reasons why the Goim are unclean: because they eat unclean things, and because they themselves have not been cleansed (from original sin) on Mount Sinai. Harry Freedman's The Talmud: A Biography addresses almost all of these subjects . — is identical to the root of the Hebrew word for “study.” And the word Otam in the phrase, which refers to the children, appears without the letter “vav,” allowing it to be read Atem (“you”). With the Temple’s destruction in 70 AD, the Sadducees became an anachronism, and disappeared more or less immediately. The Talmud is a book put together by people who saw intellectual activity as sanctifying. Even if the details of the law had to be altered to suit newly arisen conditions, the proper way to perform such adaptation could itself be learned from the Talmud and its commentaries. There were other practical reasons too, however. Talya Fishman’s new book, “Becoming the People of the Talmud: Oral Torah as Written Tradition in Medieval Jewish Cultures,” addresses an important aspect of the subject. The first consists of guidelines associated with laws mentioned in the Torah, whose practice is undefined by the text (such as the shape and color of phylacteries, or the fact that the Omer-offering countdown begins on the second day of Passover rather than the following Sunday). It is the record of rabbinic teachings that spans a period of about six hundred years, beginning in the first century C.E. The Talmud provided the means of determining how God wants all Jews to live, in all places, at all times. Studying sacred writings is one of the Ten Commandments. In it are things which are listed as acceptable and unacceptable, which using stronger language is viewed as legal or illegal according to Mosaic Law. There are a number of important books that Jews read in synagogues (Tanakh, Talmud, Siddur, etc. The Talmud is considered the oral traditions that coincide with the Torah. The new types of investigation are not simply “irrelevant” to such a quest; they impede it. Reprinted with permission from Back to the Sources: Reading the Classic Jewish Texts, published by Simon & Schuster. Likewise in Abhodah Zarah, 22b: In many ways, the Talmud is the most important book in Jewish culture, the backbone of creativity and of national life. Why do Jewish people study the Talmud and Hebrew Bible? The reason that Josiah consulted Huldah instead of Jeremiah, the senior prophet of his day, was probably because Huldah was the leading Oral Torah teacher of her time, as indicated by an ancient Aramaic translation of 2 Kings (22:14). Light the candles every night with our special guests, Back to the Sources: Reading the Classic Jewish Texts, Why The Mishnah Is the Best Jewish Book You’ve Never Read. Even as this extraordinary project gathered pace, there were those who opposed it — either because they rejected the concept of an oral tradition altogether, or because they feared that formalizing such a vast body of law would restrict their ability to integrate into contemporary culture. Pronounced: MISH-nuh, Origin: Hebrew, code of Jewish law compiled in the first centuries of the Common Era. This must not be understood too literally. The Talmud itself does not always state with precision what these rules are to be, and in the nature of things it could not anticipate new situations in which these rules would have to be applied. really something Jewish? Instead, they focused on the Temple as the only important symbol of Jewish identity. Definition of terms. B. It is a depiction of the primary codification of the Jewish decrees. To ensure the survival of Judaism, we must be prepared to grow our personal Torah knowledge throughout our lives. The Talmud records the legal and religious discussions thousands of rabbis had over centuries until it was compiled in about 500 CE. The same reason case law is important. It would appear that immediately following the conquest of Canaan, and all the way through the destruction of the First Temple and into the Second Temple period, these traditions remained exclusively oral. They found holiness in their effort to bring rational order to their tradition, and as a result problem solving and disciplined logic became important characteristics of rabbinic dis­course. The Talmud is divided into six general sections, called sedarim (“orders”):Zera’im (“Seeds”), dealing primarily with the agricultural laws, but also the laws of blessings and prayers (contains 11 tractates).Mo’ed (“Festival”), dealing with the laws of the Shabbat and the holidays (contains 12 tractates).Nashim (“Women”), dealing with marriage and divorce (contains 7 tractates).Nezikin (“Damages”), dealing with civil and criminal law, a… And, isn’t the Talmud a set of writings by Jewish rabbis collected two hundred years after Yeshua (Jesus) lived? and continuing through the sixth and seventh centuries C.E. Anyone, however, who aspired to the title “rabbi,” anyone who wished to be part of an ancient chain of tradition, had to become immersed in the “sea of the Talmud.” The Talmud therefore served the additional practical function of training religious leaders. [Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Avodah Zarah 36a] While we see the Talmud as an important historical resource, there are many reasons we cannot accept the rabbis’ assertion that it was given by Elohim. While not entirely historically accurate, it’s not meant to be. It offers commentaries on biblical passages along with guidelines on how to live your life. Some were teachers, or admin­istrators, or political advisors; some, for that matter, were merchants. They found holiness in their effort to bring rational order to their tradition, and as a result problem solving and disciplined logic became important characteristics of rabbinic dis­course. (literally, “study”) is the generic term for the documents that comment and expand upon the Mishnah (“repeating”), the first work of rabbinic law, published around the year 200 CE by Rabbi Judah the Patriarch in the land of Israel. If the Bible is the cornerstone of Judaism, then the Talmud is the central pillar, soaring up from the foundations and supporting the entire spiritual and intellectual edifice. How can questions of Jewish law be resolved from a text that may conceal scribal error on every line? During the rebellious reign of King Josiah (c.649-609 BCE), the High Priest Hilkiah discovered a Torah scroll while renovating the Temple, and brought it to the king’s attention. If the Torah had been confined to the original written text, it would never have survived. Modern scholars approach the Talmud seeking the answers to all sorts of questions— usually questions of their own devising—and they have developed tech­niques for working out more or less reliable answers to these questions. {image_1}Perhaps this title intrigued you, but you aren’t sure why. The Talmud explicitly sets out an important principle when it comes to halakhic decision making in Berakhot 9a when it states: “Rabbi Shimon is a great enough authority to rely upon in cases of emergency/pressing need.” We find that there are some instances when the minority opinion may be relied on instead of the majority view. But Talmud study would be helpful even outside the yeshiva world, Steinsaltz believes. The Talmud is a book put together by people who saw intellectual activity as sanctifying. Photo: National Archives and Records Administration. Mr. Comprised of the Mishnah and the Gemara, it contains the opinions of thousands of rabbis from different periods in Jewish history. But while it is true that the Torah is uniquely revered as the essence of our faith identity andelevated above all other texts as the unadulterated word of Godthe primary text of Judaism is undoubtedly the Talmud. This is one of the reasons that Talmud study for many people in the modern world is not a practical activity at all, but rather an important religious experience. Pronounced: TALL-mud, Origin: Hebrew, the set of teachings and commentaries on the Torah that form the basis for Jewish law. Archeological Talmud: Digging Deeper – R abbi Ysoscher Katz While the Talmud appears to many to be a book of halakha, it is in reality a book of philosophy—Jewish thought shrouded in Jewish jurisprudence. Of these “practical” reasons, one has already been discussed at some length [in the book Back to the Sources]—the Talmud has been studied in order to extract functioning law from its pages. On the various motivations and interests which brought Jews into a cross-generational conversation called Talmud. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google, German Judge Silences Neo-Nazi Gunman Who Attacked Synagogue on Yom Kippur After He Denies Holocaust, Medieval Antisemitic Carvings on German Churches Should Be Explained, Not Removed, Expert Panel Recommends, Trump Administration Plans to Release List of BDS Groups, ‘Goodbye to Hanukkah’ New York Times Author Distances Herself as Criticism Mounts. Nevertheless, the revival was depressingly short-lived, as only a handful of experts were familiar with oral tradition, and the nation once again drifted away from Torah observance. We use cookies to improve your experience on our site and bring you ads that might interest you. Nevertheless, Talmudic study has remained entirely unchanged in a very important respect, and will remain unchanged as long as people engage in it. A. the Writings B. the Torah C. the Hebrew Bible D. the Talmud please help i dont want a bad grade again . How can the Tal­mud reveal the eternal word of God if it turns out to be the work of third- or fourth-century men living in the fading world of Near Eastern antiquity? As a result of this epiphany, the slow process of turning our rich oral backdrop into a structured body of knowledge began. Thus this basic text uncovered the fullness of God’s rev­elation to the people of the Covenant. Together with the Gemara, it makes up the Talmud. But the verses are often terse, containing layers of hidden meaning. Copyright © 2002-2020 My Jewish Learning. But there is so much more to the Torah than meets the eye. Questions of historical reliability, or of outside cultural influence, were in the long run irrelevant to this kind of inquiry. It explains the written texts of the Torah so that people know how to apply it to their lives. These considerations help ex­plain why modern, critical Talmud study was long resisted in traditional yeshivot [religious academies] and is still excluded from many of them. It constitutes the foundation of Jewish law, practice and customs to this very day and forms the core curriculum of Orthodox yeshivas. These Jews became known as the Sadducees, and were comprised of a broad group, encompassing everyone from Torah-scripture literalists to Hellenized Jews. My Jewish Learning is a not-for-profit and relies on your help. Not all so trained there­upon took up the authority now available to them. Jews have studied the Talmud for a great variety of reasons. The Talmud is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (halakha) and Jewish theology. The Talmud was Torah. To study Talmud was to converse with the Creator of the Universe. The Jewish belief is that Moses received the Torah as a written text alongside a commentary: the Talmud. Which of the following texts contains commentaries on the teachings of Moses? Jews studied Talmud because the act brought them closer to the divine. After all, isn’t Torah (Gen.–Deut.) Even in the past, for that matter, the main reason for the Talmud’s preeminence, the chief cause of its central role in Jewish history, was not practical at all. This past Sunday, one of the topics I taught to my 7th grade Hebrew school class was the mitzvah of learning Torah (called Talmud Torah).. “The Talmud tells a story about a great Rabbi who is dying, he has become a goses, but he cannot … The traditional Jew studies Talmud because it communicates ultimate truth—truth about God, truth about the world, and most important, truth about how God wants the holy community of Israel to live. 11:19), “and you shall teach it to them” — namely, your children. The Talmud revealed God speak­ing to Israel, and so the Talmud became Israel’s way to God. 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