Online Talmud the next great technological innovation –

When the history of Jewish texts comes to be written, Feb. 7, 2017, will likely be regarded as an important turning point.

Why? Heres what happened.

For the first time, the extraordinary Steinsaltz English translation and its interpretation of the Talmud was made available to all. Online. Free. In print, it costs hundreds to buy the Steinsaltz volumes. The Steinsaltz English translation is an up-to-date (some volumes are still to be released) and easily understood aid to Talmud study for English speakers.

But wait, theres more: Multiple commentaries are now just a click or a touch away and the ability to see where biblical texts appear in the Talmud has been added, and so much more. Effectively, the linked, interconnected nature of Jewish texts has now been brought to life online with a dynamism and an immediacy that will change the frame of Jewish learning. The implications for Jewish life going forward will likely be substantial.

To understand the significance of the moment, a little history is in order. Human communications technology began with the invention of pictorial writing, 20,000 to 30,000 years ago. It was the genesis of civilization.

Later, the creation of alphabets around 4,000 years ago gave rise to the potential for literacy, knowledge and citizenship. Hebrew was one of the earliest alphabets, and Jews were the first to insist that the education that alphabets made possible had to permeate every household in society. Over time, the written word became so central to Jews that even our oral transmissions were enshrined on clay or parchment. Texts became our hallmark. What other people insists that a piece of learned writing must be attached to every significant doorpost?

But writing had its limits: Scribal work was laborious and time-consuming. Scrolls were expensive treasures. Hand-written texts were hard to produce, hard to obtain, hard to replicate with precision and hard to preserve.

Only in the middle of the 15th century, with the arrival of the printing press, did texts and books and newspapers truly become available to all. It was a revolution that changed the world. Indeed, the printing press led directly to what Rabbi Jonathan Sacks describes as the collapse of strictly hierarchical societies in which only a few were literate and had access to texts.

The printing press, in short, changed the human landscape not only externally but internally, he wrote. More than any other invention it paved the way for the transition from the medieval to the modern age.

For Jews, the printing press made prayer books and commentaries widely available. It also gave rise to the arrangement of the classic Talmudic page, a unique compilation of texts spanning two millennia that has come to be the core focal point of Jewish learning.

Given this history, it is remarkable to realize that we are now living through the rise of the fourth great transformation in communication technology. The advent of the Internet represents a transition that will have even more profound implications than those initiated by the printing press.

Already in the 1990s, Jewish texts quickly migrated online and static versions of many sources were to be found on multiple websites. But that just mimicked the printed page in a virtual environment.

The game-changer came with the launch of the Sefaria website (and app) in 2013. Sefaria (from the Hebrew root sefer, book) began to collect all the significant Jewish texts in a common format in one searchable location. They started to link the texts, and they opened the site for Jewish educators to create and share instructional worksheets.

As the founders of Sefaria explained it, Judaisms core texts grew out of millennia-long conversations and arguments across generations. More than a collection of books on a shelf, the Jewish canon is a giant corpus of interconnected texts that speak to each other. Sefaria is making it easier than ever to explore the conversations of the past, while also creating a space for ancient conversations to continue in new ways, with new participants, new questions and new layers of dialogue.

This month, Sefaria became richer and deeper and more significant than ever before. It took Jewish texts to the next level the moment when they began to utilize fully the features of the online environment. Our texts have always operated in a cross-referenced fashion. Now, the hyperlinked technology allows that reality to become apparent and useful in an unprecedented way. Now, textual sharing, collaboration, mobility and availability are becoming universal.

Our scribes and scrolls will always be precious to us. But making the Talmud and the great Jewish sources accessible and translated everywhere at all time, with a facility for instantly searching across sources, is an invaluable leap. There can be little doubt that this is an important turning point indeed.

All Jews should have the Sefaria app on their phone or tablet. Even if consulted infrequently, it should be part of a learned Jewish identity to have all the core Jewish sources at ones fingertips. And together, we can now hold all the centuries of Jewish learning literally in our collective hands.

Rabbi Danny Schiff is the Jewish Community Foundation Scholar at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

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Online Talmud the next great technological innovation –

Young Israel Of Memphis Celebrates Talmud And Torah – The Jewish Press –

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On Shabbos morning, January 21, the congregants of Young Israel of Memphis (YIOM) was excited to celebrate with Michael and Alison Novich, as Michael marked his second cycle of completing the study of the entire Babylonian Talmud with a joy-filled Siyum HaShas and gala Kiddush. YIOM President Jonathan Kaplan commented, Our community is incredibly impressed with Michaels monumental accomplishment. His commitment to consistently study Torah on a daily basis inspires each of us to carve out time in our own busy lives for daily Torah study.

Michael and Alison also arranged for their former rabbi Rabbi Allen Schwartz (together with his wife Alisa and two of their children) of New York Citys Congregation Ohab Zedek to join them for this special weekend. During his stay in Memphis, Rabbi Schwartz shared six well-attended intriguing Torah presentations with the community.

Rabbi Schwartz was as impressed with our Memphis Jewish community as we were with him. At several points over the course of Shabbos he remarked how important it was for him and his wife to see and experience our terrific community first-hand. Many young couples they interact with are looking for more affordable Jewish communities. Rabbi Schwartz told us he would readily suggest Memphis as an option for those interested in relocating.

Excerpt from:
Young Israel Of Memphis Celebrates Talmud And Torah – The Jewish Press –

Public Schools, Bibi, and Sports: Letters to the Editor Tablet … – Tablet Magazine

In response to Talmud to Betsy DeVos: Yes, We Need Public Schools by Adam Kirsch:

I am a big fan of Adam Kirschs Talmud column, and usually enjoy readings views on this monumental and highly complex work that has kept our people preoccupied for over a 1,000 years. Even if his views are cursory, they are fresh and I think positive. This week, however, was exceptional.

The Talmuds says clearly that, as Kirsch quotes, if not for Rabbi Yehoshua ben Gamla, Torah would have been forgotten from the Jewish people. In short, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Gamlas work had nothing at all to do with public schools because he was interested in only one thing: ensuring a Torah education. Without his institution, too many children in that era would have been lost to our heritage and we would not be here to talk about the Talmud today. When Agudath Israel and other Orthodox organization take a strong stance pro vouchers, they are fully following in the footsteps of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Gamla. They are fighting the battle to ensure that it is not difficult for any parent to make the choice to send their child for a Torah education. Just as Rabbi Yehoshua ben Gamla knew that expecting parents to send children away from home for education would make the burden of education too great, these organizations know that school choice and vouchers will lighten the burden of a Torah education and ensure that many parents will now be freer to make such a choice.

Does Adam Kirsch honestly believe that the Talmud or Rabbi Yehoshua ben Gamla, with their single minded and heroic efforts to ensure Jewish continuity through Torah learning and Torah education, would approve of Jews fighting again Jewish groups trying to get whatever help they can for Torah education, in the name of helping public schools? If anything the Rabbis would bemoan that a man as intelligent and capable as Kirsch, without a complete Jewish education, can only read his peoples most sacred works in a foreign and often shallow translation, without the life, complexity and deep analysis that a nine year old yeshiva kid who delves in the sea that is the Talmud.

As an aside to the debate, I weigh in by opining that the Jewish people are suffering an onslaught of assimilation and loosing the vast majority of unaffiliated Jews and even reform Jewish youth due to their complete lack of Jewish education. As noble as the ideals of caring about society is, and as free as any Jew is to take that stand, the Talmud certainly cannot be brought as weighing in on the side of restricting tax money that Jewish day school parents pay from going to their own schools. Too many Jews take the concerns of every group around them to their hearts. This is commendable, but let us not forget that if we Jews are not their for our own brother, our own education, our own continuity, no one will be and we will disappear from history. Let us not forget that before Hillel says, If I am for myself, what am I? he states clearly, If I am not for myself, who will be?

R. Adler

In response to Whats Mine is Mine by Alana Newhouse:

Well said!

Al Averbach, San Francisco

In response toAn Open Letter to Robert Kraft by Matthew Fishbane:

Many thanks for your excellent letter to Mr. Kraft. We hope that it goes from your pen to Mr. Krafts ears and to his heart and mind! Todah rabah!

Phyllis and Archie Nahman

In response to The Arab-ization of American Politics byLee Smith:

In my opinion, the Womens March comes out of this tradition and cannot be relegated as Mr. Smith alludes, to as 60s nostalgia. Jews have often held rallies for their politically/culturally-specific causes like the rallies during the 1930s (and protest theatre once again as in Ben Hechts pageants in New York, Chicago and Boston and performative events) that were against Hitlers rise in Germany, along with the Free Soviet Jewry rallies in the 60s and 70s, and the rally that drew I believe (needs research) about 250,000 to D.C. in the 80s when Reagan brought Gorbachev to meet and Elie Wiesel made it a cause to support (as he had done earlier in his career).

Also, in a way that may not be intendedfrom the title to the content I think the article as it is written is a form of demonization. I have read articles by Mr. Smith before and though I often dont often agree with him, but I have respect for his broad knowledge that he brings to his chosen subjects. But demonizing Arabs, unintended or not, is both unseemly and even racist. In todays toxic environment around identity and politics it is a volatile mix. I have found myself more towards Mr. Smith in his most recent articles on Trump and I think he is a valuable voice providing other viewpoints than mine and providing some balance.

I respect Tablet and all you do and your inclusive approach to this intercultural world that we live in.

David Y. Chack, Chicago, IL

In response toTheo Epsteins Cubs Recognized as Champions at the White House by Jonathan Zalman

This article begins with a thinly-veild swipe at outgoing President Barack Obama. While the observances at end of Obamas tenure may be seemingly endless to the writer, that is not the case for many. As this snide comment is not particularly relevant to the otherwise interesting article, I question the authors motivation.

If it was meant humorously, Im sorry that I dont find it funny enough to merit its inclusion. Was Mr. Zalman so bored by these last few weeks and so eager to vent his anger about it that he simply could not remain civil? Is it possible that he was oblivious to his insult? I would very much like to understand.

I wanted to shared this piece on various social media outlets, as I often do with Tablet articles. Unfortunately, this rude comment did not meet my standards for what I can endorse. And I dont think my standards are all that high or anything to brag about! If someone with my admittedly low expectations found this objectionable, who else is also annoyed? Or was the intent to make the slap so oblique that few would notice?


Daniel Kasnitz, Vermont

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Public Schools, Bibi, and Sports: Letters to the Editor Tablet … – Tablet Magazine

Talmud, The – Jewish Knowledge Base –

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Talmud, The: the basic compendium of Jewish law and thought; its tractates mainly comprise the discussions collectively known as the Gemara, which elucidate the germinal statements of law (mishnayot) collectively known as the Mishnah; when unspecified refers to the Talmud Bavli, the edition developed in Babylonia, and edited at the end of the fifth century C.E.; the Talmud Yerushalmi is the edition compiled in the Land of Israel at the end of the fourth century C.E.

Classes, in-depth lectures, overviews and more on the Mishnah and Gemara

The Talmud is the mainstay of the Jewish oral tradition. Explore this important area of Jewish scholarship with our array of classes, in depth-lectures, overviews and more on the Mishnah and Gemara

Introductory Text-based Talmud Study

By Eliezer Wolf

These Talmud classes will be studying and analyzing the third chapter of tractate Bava Metzia, which presents the Jewish approach in many matters of civil law, particularly vis–vis the different degrees of liability assumed by guardians, renters and bor…

How deep can Talmud go?

By Tzvi Freeman

Quantum logic helps explain a halachic ruling of Maimonides, a puzzling story of the Talmud, a Midrash about the splitting of the Sea of Reeds, and a rabbinic teaching about the relationship between Torah and existence.

An Introduction to Talmud

By Eliezer Wolf

This introductory class to Talmud explores the rich history of the Oral Tradition, explains the structure of the Talmud, introduces some of its famed personalities and presents the layout of the Talmud page.

By Yehuda Leib Schapiro

This class clarifies what the Talmud consists of, its function and how it embodies the entire Oral Torah.

By Adin Even-Israel (Steinsaltz)

Rabbi Steinsaltz introduces the “Oral Law” (the Talmud and associated works) and contrasts it with the “Written Law” (the Bible). He discusses some of the features that make the Talmud a unique work and suggests that it can only be understood properly if …

By Adin Even-Israel (Steinsaltz)

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel provides an introduction to the Jewish Oral Law as a preface to his discussion on the Jewish perspective to medical ethics.

A Text-Based, Skills-Building Talmud Class

By Mendel Kaplan

Learn how to study Talmud line-by-line and word-by-word. In this intermediate level class you will learn to understand the unique give-and-take style of Talmudic argument.

Scroll Down – Part 7

By Michael Chighel

Since the redaction of the Talmud around the year 500, no single text apart from the Torah itself has played a more vital role in the preservation and development of Jewish education. What is the Talmud?

How and why was the Oral Torah written?

By Yehuda Shurpin

The Talmud is a collection of writings that covers the full gamut of Jewish law and tradition

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Talmud, The – Jewish Knowledge Base –

Nonprofit offers online English-language translation of the Talmud … – Colorado Springs Gazette

A feature of visualizing connections between the Talmud and Tanakh. Image from screenshot JERUSALEM (RNS) For some, the notion of delving into the Talmud in English for free with the click of a mouse was something they could only dream of. But now that dream is becoming a reality.

On Tuesday (Feb. 7) Sefaria, a nonprofit organization devoted to Jewish text learning, announced it had uploaded 22 tractates of the renowned Steinsaltz English-language edition of the Babylonian Talmud and will post the remainder as they are translated and annotated.

The Hebrew version of the Talmud will begin going online by the end of the year.

The Talmud, considered the canon of Jewish law, is central to rabbinic Judaism but has mostly been the purview of rabbis and scholars, in part because it is written in Aramaic, and in part because it encompasses multiple volumes.

Ninety percent of the worlds Jews speak Hebrew and English, said Daniel Septimus, Sefarias executive director. The Talmud is in Aramaic. From an accessibility point of view, its a game changer.

Although there are other online Talmud editions, they are not in English or cost hundreds of dollars to access. Sefarias edition has a Creative Commons noncommercial license, meaning anyone can use it as part of the public domain for noncommercial purposes.

Known as the William Davidson Talmud, the new online edition offers parallel translations linked to major commentaries, biblical citations, midrash (ancient rabbinic literature) and halakhah (Jewish law and jurisprudence).

The project is funded by the William Davidson Foundation in cooperation with its publishers, Milta and Koren Publishers Jerusalem.

Septimus said the project, which required the efforts of 15 engineers and countless scholars and translators, has been a labor of love.

For the Jewish people, our texts are our collective inheritance, he said. They belong to everyone and Sefaria wants them to be available to everyone.

(Michele Chabin is RNS Jerusalem correspondent)

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Nonprofit offers online English-language translation of the Talmud … – Colorado Springs Gazette

A Not-To-Be-Missed Opportunity: ArtScroll’s Talmud and Mishnah Sale – Yeshiva World News


The ArtScroll editions of Talmud and Mishnah. We see them everywhere: On bookshelves, shtenders and shul tables, in the hands of Jews poring over them at home, in school, on buses and in boardrooms. How noble they look, their embossed spines proudly proclaiming their names. And how important they are, to our lives, to our neshamahs, to everything we believe in and hold dear. From now until Feb. 21st, you can purchase full sets and individual volumes at a remarkable 30% off the retail price. Now is the time to bring the Talmud and Mishnah into your home and heart.

The Schottenstein Edition Talmud Bavli: The publication of the Schottenstein Edition Talmud Bavli was a landmark in the history of Torah learning, an unprecedented achievement in English-language Judaica. With its flowing translation, clear elucidation, plus diagrams, vowelized text, and introductions to the tractates and individual topics, the Schottenstein Edition Talmud Bavli has transformed the lives of tens of thousands of people who make Talmud study a vital part of their day.

Schottenstein Edition Hebrew Talmud Bavli: Designed for those who prefer to study in Hebrew, this edition has achieved wide acceptance and acclaim. In Israel and America, the Blue Gemara is everywhere.

Schottenstein Talmud Yerushalmi in Hebrew and English: For sixteen centuries, the Talmud Yerushalmi was the exclusive province of great talmidei chachamim, but a closed book for everyone else. This extraordinary translation and elucidation brings the wisdom of the Yerushalmi to everyone who wants to revel in its study.

The Schottenstein Edition Mishnah Elucidated: Featuring a flowing translation and concise elucidation in the format of the Schottenstein Talmud, this edition is perfect for yahrzeits and sheloshim, for beginners, students, and anyone seeking a clear, basic understanding of the Mishnah. It also includes in-depth notes for a deeper understanding, as well as the commentary of Rabbi Ovadiah Bartenura.

The Ryzman Edition Hebrew Mishnah A multi-level Hebrew-language elucidation of Mishnah, enabling readers to learn at the level of their choice. Each volume contains the full text of the Mishnah, the commentary of Rabbi Ovadia Bartenura, a phrase-by-phrase translation and elucidation in readable Hebrew, as well as expanded explanations of the Mishnah for a greater understanding of the pshat.

ArtScroll Mishnah with the Yad Avraham Commentary: A major series that includes clear translation, diagrams and illustrations, and the Yad Avraham commentary covering a broad range of commentators, this is an important part of every Torah library.

Click here to order.

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A Not-To-Be-Missed Opportunity: ArtScroll’s Talmud and Mishnah Sale – Yeshiva World News

Sefaria Puts Talmud into Public Domain – News – Forward

Given that its is one if not the most essential Jewish texts, the Talmud can be surprisingly hard to come by. But not anymore: The Jewish start-up Sefaria just released a free digital version into the public domain.

The William Davidson Talmud is an edition of the Babylonian Talmud with parallel translations into English and Modern Hebrew.

The interactive online version of the text is also interlinked to major commentaries, biblical citations, Midrash, Kabbalah, Halakhah, and an ever-growing library of Jewish texts.

And you can also use it beyond Sefarias website. The Talmud was published with a Creative Commons non-commercial license, which means that it is part of the public domain and everyone can use and re-use it, as long as you dont make money from it.


Experts weve talked to believe this is the most significant work of intellectual property ever transferred into the creative commons philanthropically, he added.

The whole project was years in the making.

Sefaria is a non profit that was started in 2011 by author, Joshua Foer, and Google alum Brett Lockspeiser, with a mission of putting the entire Jewish canon online. (The name Sefaria is a play on the Hebrew word for library, sifria.)

The two childhood friends had lost touch for many years, but reconnected over a shared frustration that the Talmud and other important Jewish texts were not accessible online.

At that point, if you were to google the English Talmud, you would find pdfs from the Soncino edition published in England, you would get an anti-Semitic website and you would get a partial 1918 translation, Foer told the Forward. That by itself was kind off pathetic.

So they quickly got to work, and have since amassed almost 1,600 Jewish texts and commentaries that are all available online.

But we always knew the linchpin of the whole project would be whether we could get an English translation of the Talmud, Foer said.

Currently, there exist only three English translations in the world. After years of negotiations Sefaria (with a grant from the William Davidson Foundation) bought the rights to one of them – from Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.

Steinsaltz, a rabbi from Israel, spent 45 years of his life translating the Talmud from Ancient Aramaic to modern Hebrew and English.

Edgar Asher

Literary Discipline: Working on the Talmud has kept his writing and intellect grounded, Steinsaltz says.

He was only 27 when the project began, and finished in 2010, after releasing a new section of the translation approximately once per year.

I did it because it is necessary, Steinsaltz told Israels Army Radio in 2010. The Talmud is the spine of our culture I wanted to restore to the Jewish people their heritage.

As of now, Sefaria published 22 Talmud tractates in English (Berakhot to Bava Batra) online. The Modern Hebrew translations will start appearing online later this year, and the remaining English tractates will follow as soon as their are finished.

We think that the Talmud is not just the life blood of the Jewish people, but one of the great works of Western civilization that has basically been inaccessible to a large number of people, Foer told the Forward.

His co-founder, Brett Lockspeiser, who runs Sefarias technological operations, called the online release fantastic.

Its a real accomplishment for us, and the Jewish people in the world to now be able to access this, Lockspeiser told the Forward.

All the texts on Sefaria are not only texts, they are also interconnected data with lots of fancy features and visualization tools.

The Jewish canon is not really a collection of books on a book shelf, its like this gigantic un-ending conversation, Foer told the Forward. We wanted to return that text to the original modality of being fully interconnected and in conversation with each other.

And in doing in way, that you can take the conversation form text to text to text, from commentator to commentator to commentator, Foer said.

A team of 15 engineers works daily to create new ways to create these interconnections – for example to show the connections between Tanakh and Talmud or to highlight all the times that text is being repeated in the Jewish canon.

Users can create their own source sheets to collect and connect texts, sort of like a Torah mixtape. So far 60,000 users created sheets – many of them students.

If possible, all the texts on Sefaria have a public domain license.

For the Jewish people, our texts are our collective inheritance, said Sefaria CEO Daniel Septimus. They belong to everyone and Sefaria wants them to be available to everyone,

Lilly Maier is a news intern at the Forward. Reach her at or on Twitter at @lillymmaier

Sefaria Puts Talmud into Public Domain – News – Forward

Leading Talmud translation goes free online with Sefaria – The Jewish Standard

The following message appeared on Sefarias blog to announce the addition:

More than fifty years ago, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel took it upon himself to make the Talmud, the central text of Jewish life, available to all. In 1965, he began translating the 37 tractates of the Talmud from ancient Aramaic into Modern Hebrew, with an English translation published in the Koren Talmud Bavli NoEdition. Ninety percent of the worlds Jewish population speaks English or Hebrew as a first language, so making the Talmud intelligible in these two languages is a colossal achievement, but until now, this precious content was only available to those with access to a physical volume.

Today, Sefaria is excited and humbled to announce the release of The William Davidson Talmud, a free digital edition of the Babylonian Talmud with parallel translations, interlinked to major commentaries, biblical citations, Midrash, Kabbalah, Halakhah, and an ever-growing library of Jewish texts.

The William Davidson Talmud will continually evolve as we add additional commentaries and connections, and will ultimately include Rabbi Steinsaltzs complete Modern Hebrew and English translations. You can already access 22 tractates in English (Berakhot to Bava Batra) online on our website. The Modern Hebrew translations will start appearing online later this year, and the remaining English tractates will follow.

For the Jewish people, our texts are our collective inheritance. They belong to everyone and Sefaria wants them to be available to everyone, with free and open public licenses. Through the generous support of The William Davidson Foundation, Rabbi Steinsaltzs English and Hebrew translations and interpolated textual explanations will be available with a Creative Commons Non-Commercial license, making them free for use and re-use even beyond Sefaria.

Were incredibly grateful to our partners, TheWilliam Davidson Foundation, Matthew Miller and Koren Publishers, and Rabbi Menachem Even-Israel and Milta, for helping bring this unprecedented intellectual property deal to fruition.We could not have asked for better collaborators, and were all thrilled to be able to give The William Davidson Talmud to the world.

Now go and study.

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Leading Talmud translation goes free online with Sefaria – The Jewish Standard

On Western and other walls – Arutz Sheva

Priestly Blessings at the Western Wall

Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Interestingly and fascinatingly enough the Talmud tractate of Baba Basra discusses in part in the daf yomi (daily page of Talmud studied all over the Jewish world) forthis week the matter of building walls and who has the obligation to pay for such a necessary and protective wall around a city or a property. The tractate that we began to once again study about ten days ago is about real estate, properties, partnerships and the inevitable disputes that result. And wouldnt you know it and who could have hypothesized that one of the earliest subjects to be tackled is about building walls to protect people and their land and who is required to pay.

In fact as you know, erecting barriers and building walls to protect us is very much in the news these days. President Trump has been talking about building a wall on this countries southern border with Mexico for quite some time. More controversial than the pressing need for such a wall to keep out drug dealers and other criminal types is the matter—as addressed by the Talmudin a somewhat different circumstance—the matter of who is going to pay (isnt that always the problem?)

Last week somehow, Israels Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu became embroiled in the US-Mexico diplomatic tug of war when he chimed in that he was in favor of the Trump southern border wall which to put it mildly, incensed Mexican officials. It all started when President Trump told Sean Hannity on Fox News last week that a border wall is good for the heart of the nation because people want protection and a wall protects. All you have to do is ask Israel, he said.

Then the President added:They [the Israelis] were having a total disastercoming across and [then] they had a wall; it is 99.9% stoppage; a proper wall, not a wall that is this high like they [US border authorities] have right now; they have little toy walls… I am talking about a real wall. And even that, of course, will have people violate it, but we will have people waiting for them when they do.

Walter Bingham

That was all fine and good until over last weekend Mr. Netanyahu added to the ongoing conflagration by telling a reporter that he agreed with Mr. Trump. And then it was learned that an Israel company that builds precisely these types of tall impenetrable walls is the frontrunner in the bid to build the wall between the US and Mexico that the cost of such a project can run as much as $10 billion.

And that wasnt Israels only wall problem this week. Sixteen members of Israels religious parties in the Knesset have offered up legislation that wants to eliminate the possibility that the government will set aside any area at the Western Wall for egalitarian services which in other words means that a section of the Wall will be set aside where Jewish denominations—Conservative and Reform Jews—can hold services that include men and women praying together.

The new law if passed would prevent any religious practices that offend worshippers at the place. This means it would continuethe Orthodox Chief Rabbinate and Israels rabbinical court’ssole jurisdiction over the Western Wall. Violators of the new law would face heavy sanctions including six months in prison and a 10,000 shekel fine.

If this legislation passes it would signal a major defeat for the Conservative and Reform movements in Israel. Even though this struggle and debate has been going on for years with the group Women of the Wall leading the way there is still no organized mixed prayer services at the Wall. Over the last several years there have been unofficial mixed prayer groups holding services at the upper plaza where many thousands of tourists and locals gather on a daily basis. The new legislation would outlaw these informal groups of non-Orthodox Jews who prefer a mixed prayer service from doing so on the lower plaza.

Hadas Parush/Flash 90

The new bill was initiated by Shas, the ultra-Orthodox Mizrahi party. It was signed not only by all the members of the two harediparties in the Knesset Shas and United Torah Judaism but also by three members of the Likud, Oren Hazan, David Amsalem and Miki Zohar, and by three members of the religious Zionist pro-settler Habayit Hayehudi, Bezalel Smotrich, Motti Yogev and Nissan Smoliansky.

Another dimension of this Western Wall issue that may be reaching its zenith is that it serves to alienate large numbers of American Jews in particular who do not identify with Orthodox Judaism. While this overwhelming majority of non-Orthodox American Jews are significant economic supporters of various projects in the state of Israel, this kind of legislation potentially jeopardizes that vital financial support for the Jewish state.

While Prime Minister Netanyahu would like to tip toe around this wall issue, he is not faring much better than he has over the last week with the wall going up someday at the US southern border with Mexico. The Prime Minister is walking a fine line here as he needs the support of the religious parties in the Knesset but at the same time does not want to insult or offend millions of American Jews and Jews in other countries as well, no doubt.

And Israels wall problems did not conclude with the above issues this week. For some reason the new Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guteres, said last week that in his estimation or his opinion or maybe its a matter of history, the ancient Jewish Temple that we know as the Bet Hamikdash once stood on the area above the Western Wall known as the Temple Mount or Har Habayit.

And all this after UNESCO declared both The Temple Mount and the Wall below as Islamic religious sites which was just another way of communicating to the world that todays Israel is not only a military occupier but also a force and a presence illegally sitting atop Muslim holy sites. Most reasonable and honest people understand and know well that there is an irrefutable connection between these sites, the city of Jerusalem overall and the Jewish people. But when we refer to the Palestinian Arabsand their leadership in particular the idea of honesty unfortunately does not enter into the equation.

Its not a secret that President Trump has an affinity for Bibi Netanyahu and the state of Israel. The President respects and admires success more than anything else. When it comes to Israel and for that matter myriad other issues, the President is philosophically the polar opposite of Barrack Obama. So, therefore, it is not a surprise that while Obama had little else but hostility for Bibi and Israel, the Trump team will represent direct opposite and very warm and cordial feelings.

Which brings us back to the other wall issue right here in the US. Both sides agree that a wall extended over a more than 1,000 mile border between the US and Mexico will benefit both countries with the point of contention being who is going to pay for the darn thing. The US needs the wall to stem the tide of illegal migrants who indulge in criminal activities and transport drugs across the border. Mexico can benefit from the construction if Mr. Trump decides that it will be okay to use Mexican cement for the wall construction as one of the largest cement companies in the world—Cemex—is located just inside Mexico. It is estimated that over 2.4 million tons of cement will be needed to get the job done.

The Talmudin the first few pages of Baba Basra makes it clear that those who benefit from a wall should be the people who pay for it. The question is how do you define benefit and if one party benefits more than the other is there a sliding scale for payment and so on. Talmudic logic would seem to indicate that the way out of this silly back and forth between Mr. Trump and President Pena Nieto of Mexico is to just split the cost down the middle. I dont know why that has not been offered or suggested yet by any of the parties.

In the meantime Israel continues to do battle about partitions, dividers, barriers and even ancient stone construction that people travel to from around the wall to stand in silent prayer if only for a few moments. Whether it is the nemesis posed by the womens group, the UNESCO position on the holy sites, new construction in the Old City of Jerusalem, or the Mexican Presidents and the Talmudic position on who should pay one thing is clear—Israel seems to be over its head with wall to wall headaches, some real and important, others frivolous and imaginary.

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On Western and other walls – Arutz Sheva

Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Preparing for the Super Bowl Is Like Studying Talmud – Forward

What do preparing for the Super Bowl and rabbinic literature have in common? More than you would think, according to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

As Tom Brady and company get ready to face the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 5, Kraft spoke with the Forward about his religious upbringing, his relationship with Israel, and what it takes to prepare for the biggest stage in one of the most complicated, strategic sports.

We try to prepare very hard, study very hard, said Kraft, who grew up in a strictly observant Jewish home and studied Pirkei Avot Ethics of our Fathers every Saturday afternoon with his father. You know, its like studying Talmud or Torah its not just simplistic, its deep. We prepare as a team very well, we practice hard.

That rigorous attention to detail is one reason that the Patriots are preparing to play in a record eighth Super Bowl since Kraft, a Brookline, Massachusetts, native, purchased the team in 1994.

The other key to New Englands success is the teams culture an aura often referred to as the Patriot Way. Under Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick, the organizational philosophy has been that the team is greater than the sum of its parts; everyone from the superstar quarterback to the benchwarmer is held accountable.

To be successful in football, you have to do things that put the team first, Kraft explained. Everyone has to play their role, and if they dont do it, youre not going to win. Its not the great stars that win; its the great teams that win. Its the teams that subjugate their ego to the team and put the team first.

Kraft used the word team three times in one sentence, and he unwittingly did so again a few minutes later when talking about Israel. Without explicitly referencing the Patriot Way, Kraft credited a similar check-your-ego-at-the-door, team-first mentality for the State of Israels ability to thrive in a hostile region.

That whole concept of team and teamwork and team first thats how Israel, in my opinion, has survived in the Middle East, he said. Everyone has different opinions, and everyone is a hakham [a wise man], except in times of stress and, unfortunately, war, where everyone bands together and puts the team first.

The Kraft familys relationship with Israel is well documented. Over the years, Robert Kraft has taken dozens of players, coaches and friends on yearly trips to a country that he called a modern-day miracle. In 2006 he took Brady to an Israel Defense Forces firing range. On another visit, he brought along the Vince Lombardi Trophy, stopping by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharons office for a photo shoot. Two years ago, 19 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame made the journey.

They came back to America and explained that it was the greatest experience of their life, Kraft said of the Hall of Famers. Some of them were men that had won Super Bowls, and they said that being baptized in the Sea of Galilee or visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre changed their life.

Kraft and his late wife, Myra Hiatt Kraft, have also done more than anyone to bring the American game over to Israel. The couple have supported and funded a womens flag football league. In Jerusalem, American football is played at the Kraft Family Stadium.

He acknowledged that soccer and basketball are more popular, but he believes that football will catch on. We think that once Israelis understand the game, theyll be big supporters of it, Kraft said.

In the meantime, the New England-Atlanta matchup marks the first time since 2012 that two teams with Jewish owners have met in the Super Bowl. The four-time Super Bowl champion downplayed the Jewish connection, but said that Falcons owner Arthur Blank is like a brother.

Hes a very good friend, Kraft said. Only one of us is going to win next Sunday, but I have great respect and affection for him.

Jane Eisner contributed reporting.

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Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Preparing for the Super Bowl Is Like Studying Talmud – Forward

Can one compel another to build a wall, or to pay for its construction? – Tablet Magazine

Literary criticAdam Kirschis readinga page of Talmuda day, along with Jews around the world.

In a week dominated by news of President Donald Trumps planned border wall, the ethics of walls have been much debated. Good fences make good neighbors, the saying goes; but Robert Frost thought otherwise. In his poem Mending Wall, he describes walking the length of a stone wall that divides his land from his neighbors. The neighbor is a stickler, insisting that the wall be solid, but the poet is doubtful: Something there is that doesnt love a wall, he observes, noting the tendency of walls to topple over, as if Nature wants us to live together, not apart. Walls are made for privacy, and for private property; but what if privacy is not a right, as we like to think? What if it is just a mean kind of anxiety, which keeps us from genuine connection with others? Before I built a wall Id ask to know/ What I was walling in or walling out, Frost writes.

This week, Daf Yomi readers began a new tractate, Bava Batra, which begins by considering these same questions about walls. Who builds them, who is responsible for them, and what purpose do they serve? Bava Batra, the last gate, is the third tractate in the series that began with Bava Kamma, the first gate, and Bava Metzia, the middle gate. Originally all three formed a single super-tractate, before being divided for conveniences sake, and together they cover the subject of damages, or nezikin, which is the title of the seder in which they appear. Bava Kamma focused on personal injury, while Bava Metzia dealt with laws governing property and contract disputes.

Now Bava Batra comes to complete the exposition of laws about property ownership and the responsibilities it entails. The introduction to this tractate in the Koren Talmud, which, as always, I am reading in English, explains that Bava Batra differs from its predecessors in one crucial respect. While the earlier tractates based their extensive regulations on biblical commandmentssuch as the law against theftor enjoining prompt payment of wagesBava Batra is composed mainly of original rabbinic legislation. The rabbis try to solve disputes based on their intuitions about fairness and justice, and on established custom in the Jewish community.

How this happens can be seen in the first mishna of the tractate. Say two people jointly own a courtyard, and they decide to divide it by building a partition. In accordance with basic fairness, the rabbis say that they should divide the land equally, building the wall right down the middle, so that each partner gives up the same amount of land for the wall to stand on. As for what the wall should be made of, here the rabbis leave it up to precedent: Everything is in accordance with the regional custom, says the mishna in Bava Batra 2a. They prescribe different thicknesses depending on the building material: The wall should be six-handbreadths wide if it is made of ordinary stones, while it can be just three-handbreadths wide if it is made of closely joined bricks. Each partner is responsible for contributing half the building material.

So far, matters are entirely straightforward. The difficulty, and the source of legal interest, arises when one partner wants to build a wall and the other partner does not. Can one compel the other to build the wall, or to pay for its construction? The Gemara points out that what is at stake here is whether there is such a thing as a right to privacy. Does one neighbor have the right to be shielded from the observation of the other neighbor? If he does, then he can force the latter to build a wall, even against his will?

Can one compel another to build a wall, or to pay for its construction?

Of course, the Talmud does not use the language of rights, which belongs to another era. Instead, it characteristically reduces an abstract concept to a concrete physical problem: Is damage caused by sight called damage? That is, can I claim that being observed in my courtyard against my will is a form of injury, which demands redress? The Gemara offers arguments on both sides of the proposition. According to Rav, It is prohibited for a person to stand in anothers field and look at his crop while the grain is standing. The reason for this is that the rabbis believed very seriously in the evil eye, a Jewish folk belief that persists to the present day. An envious look cast at a neighbors flourishing crop might cause it to wither. By this logic, there is such a thing as damage caused by sight, and so one neighbor can compel another to build a wall.

But, the Gemara asks, does the logic that applies to a field also apply to a garden, which is used not for growing crops but for recreation? One possible answer comes by analogy with another law, which states that neighbors can compel one another to build a joint gatehouse to a public courtyard, to prevent it from lying open to the gaze of passers-by. If so, it stands to reason that damage caused by sight is damage: People have an interest in not being observed. But, the Gemara asks, are the cases really analogous? Maybe there is a difference between the gaze of the general public and the gaze of one neighborthe former could be considered damage, while the latter could not.

Then the Gemara tries a different tack. There is a law that one cannot build a house in such a way that its windows are directly level with the windows of the house next door: The new windows must be four cubits away in any direction. Clearly, the rationale here is to prevent people from being observed inside their own home, so apparently, damage caused by sight is damage. But again, the rabbis raise the possibility that a house is different. Perhaps there is an expectation of privacy inside a house that does not apply outside, in a garden. Each assertion is met with a rebuttal, and in the end, it is not clear which side the law takes.

The question of whether neighbors must accommodate one another returns a little later in Bava Batra 7a, where the Gemara raises the case of a two-story house that begins to sink. This clearly affects the owner of the ground floor, who will find the ceiling descending on him, but it doesnt immediately bother the owner of the top floor, whose living space is unaffected. Can the owner of the ground floor compel his upstairs neighbor to demolish the building and rebuild it on a secure foundation? Or can the upstairs neighbor simply say that it is not his problem?

The answer is that even if the downstairsneighbor offers to assume all the expenses of the construction, and even if he offers to pay for the upstairs neighbor to rent a new house while the construction goes on, the upstairs neighbor does not have to accept the offer. He can coldly reply, Crawl on your stomach to go in, and crawl on your stomach to go out. This would be cruel, but not illegal, according to Rav Huna. But this is only true when the beams supporting the second story have not reached lower than 10 handbreadths of the ground. If the second story has sunk to within 10 handbreadths of the ground, it has encroached on the domain of the owner of the first floor, and so the latter has the right to demolish the building. This is one of those cases where good fencesor, perhaps, good foundationsdo make good neighbors.


Adam Kirsch embarked on theDaf Yomicycle of daily Talmud study inAugust, 2012. To catch up on Tablets complete archive ofmore than four years ofcolumns,click here.

Adam Kirsch is the director of the MA program in Jewish Studies at Columbia University and the author, most recently, of The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature.

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Can one compel another to build a wall, or to pay for its construction? – Tablet Magazine

The Secrets of the 7-Species Challah – Forward

The Tu BShvat Seder placed special emphasis on Shivat Haminim the Seven Species of produce native to the Land of Israel, which are mentioned in the Torah: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and honey.

Although in many parts of the world it is still winter, Tu BShvat the 15th of Shvat, the New Year of the Trees, also known as Chag HaIlanot, foretells the coming of spring and presents an opportunity to honor the forthcoming season with a heightened taste. Tu BShvat is listed in the Mishna (oral law) as the date used for calculating the beginning of the agricultural cycle for the purpose of biblical tithes. Today, it offers us a unique opportunity for insight into our personal growth through an exploration of the connection between trees, their fruits and our spiritual existence. Throughout the centuries, kabbalists have used the tree as a metaphor to understand Gods relationship to the spiritual and physical worlds.

In the 16th century, the kabbalists of Safed compiled a Tu BShvat Seder, modeled to a certain degree on the Pesach Seder. It included readings from the Torah, Talmud (oral law with accompanying commentary) and Zohar (mystical commentary on the Torah), with special blessings to be said over fruits and fruit-bearing trees. Four cups of wine were also drunk.

The Seder placed special emphasis on Shivat Haminim the Seven Species of produce native to the Land of Israel, which are mentioned in the Torah: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and honey. When God promised the land of Israel to the Jewish people, He mentioned these seven species by name to prove the lands viability, as these grains and fruits were staples in their diet. This suggests that God invoked divinity into each one of these species. When we eat from any one of these, we should be mindful that we are ingesting holy sparks into our lives as a conduit to reach God, which is also why we say a blessing to Him for this gift. I use all of these fruits in my challah preparation, to honor Tu BShvat, and to re-engage my taste for the new fruits by elevating them with intention.

With this in mind, Shvat can be viewed as a month of holy eating. It is a chance to understand God in the most basic, primal and intimate way, by connecting through the eating of the seven blessed species.

Wheat was mentioned first of the seven species because it is the foundation of sustenance. It was considered superior to barley because it was a finer grain, more suitable for human consumption. During biblical times, the choicest wheat was used in meal offerings. While wheat may have been essential for life, the Torah emphasizes man does not live by bread alone, by the utterance of Gods mouth does man live (Deuteronomy 8:3). In other words, it is not just our earthly toils that bring us bread but the blessings from above, which endow our efforts with success. In order for us to draw down blessings, we have to be involved in our own existence, and making bread is the paradigmatic example of our partnership with God in His creation.

I add dates in the form of date honey (silan), mindful of the verse, A righteous man will flourish like a date palm, like a cedar in the Lebanon he will grow tall. Planted in the House of the Lord, in the courtyards of our God they will flourish. No part of the palm tree is wasted; it is a sustainable tree. The dates are eaten, the branches are used for waving on Sukkot, the dried thatch is used for roofing, the fibers are used as ropes, the leaves can become sieves and the trunk can be used for house beams. From this we can learn that man should not to be wasteful in life, and that all parts of him should be used to carry out Gods commandments.

Jews are compared to olive trees, therefore I pour olive oil, a product of the tree, into the challah to symbolize our ability to renew ourselves. Olive trees have interesting characteristics: They can easily resist drought, diseases and even fire the roots that remain regenerate the trees even when the ground is a smoky ruin, therefore they live many years. This might be one of the many reasons why Jews are compared to olive trees; we have the ability to regenerate ourselves through our faith, to start new and transcend all obstacles.

After the rising, I knead into the dough figs as a reminder from the Talmud, fig trees are compared to Torah. Elucidating the verse in Proverbs, He who tends a fig tree will eat its fruits, the Talmud explains that figs on a tree do not ripen all at once, and the more you search the tree, the more figs you find. Such is also the case with Torah: The more you meditate upon it, the more meanings come from it.

Wine and grape juice are central to all Jewish celebrations because they are holy, sanctified beverages with a blessing all their own. Additionally, I add raisins to the dough to actualize the spiritual potential of grapes, imbuing my challah with holiness.

After the rising, I shape the challah as a pomegranate, a fruit that had great significance in Ancient Israel, and signifies both fruitfulness and righteousness. It is said that there are 613 seeds in a pomegranate, corresponding to the 613 commandments found in the Torah. According to the Talmud, the 248 positive commandments correspond to the 248 limbs of the human body. Targum Yonatan, written by a first-century sage who translated the prophetic books of the Bible, adds that the 365 negative commandments correspond to the 365 sinews in the human body. Together, these add up to 613, alluding to the idea that you must use the physical body that God gave you to live as a Jew.

After the egg wash, I adorn the challahs with barley grits, barley being the first grain to ripen in the spring a time when our taste buds can flourish after the barrenness of winter.

Dahlia Abraham-Klein is the author of Spiritual Kneading through the Jewish Months: Building the Sacred through Challah. Her new book, Necessary Mourning: Healing the Loss of a Parent through Jewish Ritual, is now available.

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The Secrets of the 7-Species Challah – Forward

Jesus in the Talmud – Wikipedia

For the related article discussing the Hebrew name Yeshu as found in Talmud and other Jewish literature, see Yeshu. For the similar sounding Hebrew or Aramaic name, see Yeshua (name).

The Talmud contains passages that some scholars have concluded are references to Christian traditions about Jesus (Yeshua). The history of textual transmission of these passages is complex and scholars are not agreed concerning which passages are original, and which were added later or removed later in reaction to the actions of Christians.

The first Christian censorship of the Talmud happened in the year 521.[1] However, far better documented censorship began during the disputations of the Middle Ages. Advocates for the Catholic Church alleged that the Talmud contained blasphemous references to Jesus and his mother, Mary. Jewish apologists during the disputations said there were no references to Jesus in the Talmud, and claimed Joshua and its derivations was a common Jewish name, that they referred to other individuals. The disputations led to many of the references being removed (censored) from subsequent editions of the Talmud.

In the modern era there has been a variance of views among scholars of the possible references to Jesus in the Talmud, depending partly on presuppositions as to the extent to which the ancient rabbis were preoccupied with Jesus and Christianity.[2] This range of views among modern scholars on the subject has been described as a range from “minimalists” who see few passages with reference to Jesus, to “maximalists” who see many passages having reference to Jesus.[3] These terms “minimalist” and “maximalist” are not unique to discussion of the Talmud text, they are also used in discussion of academic debate on other aspects of Jewish vs. Christian and Christian vs. Jewish contact and polemic in the early centuries of Christianity, such as the Adversus Iudaeos genre.[4] “Minimalists” include Jacob Z. Lauterbach (1951) (“who recognize[d] only relatively few passages that actually have Jesus in mind”),[3] while “maximalists” include Herford (1903), (who concluded that most of the references related to Jesus, but were non-historical oral traditions which circulated among Jews),[5][6] and Schfer (2007) (who concluded that the passages were parodies of parallel stories about Jesus in the New Testament incorporated into the Talmud in the 3rd and 4th centuries that illustrate the inter-sect rivalry between Judaism and nascent Christianity[7][pageneeded]).

Some editions of the Talmud are missing some of the references, which were removed either by Christian censors starting in the 13th century,[8] or by Jews themselves due to fear of antisemitic reprisals, or some were possibly lost by negligence or accident.[9] However,[citation needed] most modern editions published since the early 20th century have restored most of the references.

During the Middle Ages a series of debates on Judaism were staged by the Christian church including the Disputation of Paris, the Disputation of Barcelona, and Disputation of Tortosa and during those disputations, Jewish converts to Christianity, such as Pablo Christiani and Nicholas Donin claimed the Talmud contained insulting references to Jesus.[10] An early work describing Jesus in the Talmud was Pugio Fidei (“Dagger of Faith”) (c. 1280) by the Catalan Dominican Ramn Mart, a Jewish convert to Christianity.[11] In 1681 Johann Christoph Wagenseil translated and published a collection of anti-Christian polemics from Jewish sources, with the title Tela Ignea Satan, sive Arcani et Horribiles Judorum Adversus Christum, Deum, et Christianam Religionem Libri (Flaming Arrows of Satan, that is, the secret and horrible books of the Jews against Christ, God, and the Christian religion) which discussed Jesus in the Talmud.[11] The first book devoted solely to the topic of Jesus in the Talmud was the Latin work Jesus in Talmude published in 1699 by Rudolf Martin Meelfhrer, a student of Wagenseil at Altdorf.[12] In 1700, Johann Andreas Eisenmenger published Entdecktes Judenthum (Judaism Unmasked), which included descriptions of Jesus in the Talmud, and which would become the basis of much anti-Semitic literature in later centuries such as The Talmud Unmasked written in 1892 by Justinas Bonaventure Pranaitis.[13]

Starting in the 20th century the topic of Jesus in Judaic literature became subject to more unbiased, scholarly research, such as Das Leben Jesu nach jdischen Quellen written in 1902 by Samuel Krauss, which was the first scholarly analysis of the Judaic anti-Christian polemic Toledot Yeshu (The Biography of Jesus).[12] In 1903, Unitarian scholar R. Travers Herford wrote Christianity in Talmud and Midrash, which became the standard work on the topic in the Christian world, and he concluded that a large number of references referred to Jesus, not as a historical individual, but instead as the messiah of Christianity.[14] In 1910, Hermann Strack wrote Jesus, die Hretiker und die Christen nach den ltesten jdischen Angaben, which found no evidence of a historical Jesus in the Talmud.[12] In 1922 Joseph Klausner wrote Yeshu ha-Notzri (Jesus of Nazareth) which concluded that “the evidence [for a historical Jesus] in the Talmud is scanty and does not contribute much to our knowledge of the historical Jesus; much of it is legendary and reflects the Jewish attempt to counter Christian claims and reproaches” but he did conclude some material was historically reliable.[15] In 1950 Morris Goldstein wrote Jesus in the Jewish Tradition, including sections on the Toledoth Yeshu. In 1951, Jacob Z. Lauterbach wrote the essay Jesus in the Talmud.[16] In 1978 Johann Maier wrote Jesus von Nazareth in der talmudischen berlieferung, in which he concludes that there is virtually no evidence of the historical Jesus in the Talmud, and that the references to Jesus were “legendary” and probably added late in the Talmudic era “as a reaction to Christian provocations”.[17] In 2007, Peter Schfer wrote Jesus in the Talmud in which he tried to find a middle ground between “anti-Jewish Christian” and “apologetic Jewish” interpretations. He concluded that the references to Jesus (as the messiah of Christianity) were included in the early (3rd and 4th century) versions of the Talmud, and that they were parodies of New Testament narratives.[18]

In the first few centuries CE, there were many sects of Judaism (such as Pharisees, Essenes, and Sadducees) each claiming to be the correct faith.[19] Some scholars treat Christianity, during that era, referred to as Early Christianity, as simply one of many sects of Judaism.[20] Some sects wrote polemics advocating their position, and occasionally disparaging rival sects. Some scholars view the depictions of Jesus in the Talmud as a manifestation of those inter-sect rivalries thus the depictions can be read as polemics by the rabbinic authors of the Talmud which indirectly criticized the rival sect (Christianity), which was growing and becoming more dominant.[21]

Peter Schfer concluded that the references were not from the early tannaitic period (1st and 2nd centuries) but rather from the 3rd and 4th centuries, during the amoraic period.[22] He asserts that the references in the Babylonian Talmud were “polemical counter-narratives that parody the New Testament stories, most notably the story of Jesus’ birth and death”[23] and that the rabbinical authors were familiar with the Gospels (particularly the Gospel of John) in their form as the Diatessaron and the Peshitta, the New Testament of the Syrian Church. Schfer argues that the message conveyed in the Talmud was a “bold and self-confident” assertion of correctness of Judaism, maintaining that “there is no reason to feel ashamed because we rightfully executed a blasphemer and idolater.”[24]

By way of comparison the New Testament itself also documents conflict with rabbinical Judaism, for example in the John 8:41 charge “We are not born of fornication.”[25] and “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?”[26] and in return in the description in Revelation of a “synagogue of Satan.”[27]

In contrast to Peter Schfer, Daniel J. Lasker suggests that the Talmudic stories about Jesus are not deliberate, provocative polemics, but instead demonstrate “embryonic” Jewish objections to Christianity which would later “blossom into a full-scale Jewish polemical attack on Christianity [the Toledoth Yeshu]“.[28]

Jeffrey Rubenstein has argued that the accounts in Chullin and Avodah Zarah (“Idolatry”) reveal an ambivalent relationship between rabbis and Christianity. In his view the tosefta account reveals that at least some Jews believed Christians were true healers, but that the rabbis saw this belief as a major threat. Concerning the Babylonian Talmud account in Avoda Zarah, Boyarin views Jacob of Sechania as a Christian preacher and understands Rabbi Eliezer’s arrest for minuth (“heresy”) as an arrest by the Romans for practising Christianity. When the Governor (the text uses the word for chief judge) interrogated him, the rabbi answered that he “trusted the judge.” Boyarin has suggested that this was the Jewish version of the Br’er Rabbit approach to domination, which he contrasts to the strategy of many early Christians, who proclaim their beliefs in spite of the consequences (i.e. martyrdom). Although Rabbi Eliezer was referring to God, the Governor interpreted him to be referring to the Governor himself, and freed the rabbi. According to them the account also reveals that there was greater contact between Christians and Jews in the 2nd century than commonly believed. They view the account of the teaching of Yeshu as an attempt to mock Christianity. According to Rubenstein, the structure of this teaching, in which a biblical prooftext is used to answer a question about biblical law, is common to both the rabbis and early Christians. The vulgar content, however, may have been used to parody Christian values. Boyarin considers the text to be an acknowledgment that rabbis often interacted with Christians, despite their doctrinal antipathy.[29]

Between 1239 and 1775 the Roman Catholic Church at various times either forced the censoring of parts of the Talmud that were theologically problematic or the destruction of copies of the Talmud.[30]

During the Middle Ages a series of debates on Judaism were staged by the Roman Catholic including the Disputation of Paris (1240), the Disputation of Barcelona (1263), and Disputation of Tortosa (141314)- and during those disputations, Jewish converts to Christianity, such as Nicholas Donin (in Paris) and Pablo Christiani (in Barcelona) claimed the Talmud contained insulting references to Jesus.[31][32][33]

During these disputations the representatives of the Jewish communities offered various defences to the charges of the Christian disputants. Notably influential on later Jewish responses was the defence of Yechiel of Paris (1240) that a passage about an individual named Yeshu in the Talmud was not a reference to the Christian Jesus, though at the same time Yechiel also conceded that another reference to Yeshu was. This has been described as the “theory of two Jesuses” though Berger (1998) notes that Yehiel in fact argues for three Jesuses.[34] This defence featured again in later Jewish defences during the medieval period, such as that of Nachmanides at the Disputation of Barcelona, though others such as Profiat Duran at the Disputation of Tortosa did not follow this argument.[35]

Amy-Jill Levine notes that even today some rabbinical experts do not consider that the Talmud’s account of Jesus’ death is a reference to the Jesus of the New Testament.[36]Gustaf Dalman (1922),[37]Joachim Jeremias (1960),[38] Mark Allen Powell (1998)[39] and Roger T. Beckwith (2005)[40] were also favourable to the view the Yeshu references in the Talmud were not to Jesus. Richard Bauckham considers Yeshu a legitimate, if rare, form of the name in use at the time, and writes that an ossuary bearing both the names Yeshu and Yeshua ben Yosef shows that it “was not invented by the rabbis as a way of avoiding pronouncing the real name of Jesus of Nazareth”[41]

Numerous times between 1239 and 1775 all copies of the Talmud were ordered destroyed. In 1280 following the Disputation of Barcelona the Talmud was order censored.[42] Following the invention of the printing press, the Talmud was banned by the Pope. All printed editions of the Talmud, including the Basel Talmud and the Vilna Edition Shas, were censored. In 1559 the Talmud was placed on the Roman Index and banned. In 1564 under the Tridentine Index an expunged version of the Talmud was allowed. In 1592 the pope ordered all copies of the Talmud and other heretical writing destroyed expunged or not. The total prohibition would stay in place until 1775. Even then the censorship system would remain in force.[30] As a result of these disputations many manuscript editions had references to Jesus removed or changed, and subsequent manuscripts sometimes omitted the passages entirely. Few copies would survive.

In the 20th century, new editions began restoring the censored material, such as in the 1935 English Soncino edition.[43]

Starting in the 13th century, manuscripts of the Talmud were sometimes altered in response to the criticisms made during the disputations, and in response to orders from the Christian church. Existing manuscripts were sometimes altered (for example, by erasure) and new manuscripts often omitted the passages entirely. Peter Schfer compared several editions and documented some alterations as illustrated in the following table:[44]

Bart Ehrman, and separately Mark Allan Powell, state that the Talmud references are quite late (hundreds of years) and give no historically reliable information about the teachings or actions of Jesus during his life. Ehrman clarifies that the name “Son of Panthera” (Roman who allegedly was the seducer of Mary) was a tradition, as scholars have long recognized, that represented an attack on the Christian view, that he was the son of a virgin. In Greek, the term for virgin is parthenos, which is similar to panthera, implying that “son of panthera” is a pun on “son of a virgin”.[45][46] The name “ben Stada”, used for the same figure, is explained by Peter Schfer as a reference to his mother’s supposed adultery:

His mother’s true name was Miriam, and Stada is an epithet which derives from the Hebrew/Aramaic root sat.ah/sete’ (to deviate from the right path, to go astray, to be unfaithful). In other words, his mother Miriam was also called Stada because she was a sotah, a woman suspected, or rather convicted, of adultery.”[47]

Peter Schfer states that there can be no doubt that the narrative of the execution of Jesus in the Talmud refers to Jesus of Nazareth, but states that the rabbinic literature in question are from a later Amoraic period and may have drawn on the Christian gospels, and may have been written as responses to them.[47]

Scholars debate whether the Talmud provides any evidence of Jesus as a historical individual. Van Voorst (2000) describes this as a spectrum of opinion:

There are several Talmudic passages that are said to be referring to Jesus. The following are among those considered the most controversial, contested, and possibly the most notable.[50][51][52]

Our rabbis taught Jesus the Nazarene had five disciples, and these are they: Matthai, Naqqai, Netzer, Buni, and Todah.[53][54][55][56]

The master said: Jesus the Nazarene practiced magic and deceived and led Israel astray.[57][58][59][60]

“Jesus son of Stada is Jesus son of Pandira?”

Rav Hisda said, “The husband was Stada and the lover was Pandera.”

“But was not the husband Pappos son of Yehuda and the mother Stada?”

No, his mother was Miriam, who let her hair grow long and was called Stada. Pumbedita says about her: “She was unfaithful to her husband.”[61][62][63][64]

On (Sabbath eve and) the eve of Passover, Jesus the Nazarene was hanged and a herald went forth before him forty days heralding, “Jesus the Nazarene is going forth to be stoned because he practiced sorcery and instigated and seduced Israel to idolatry. Whoever knows anything in defense may come and state it.” But since they did not find anything in his defense they hanged him on (Sabbath eve and) the eve of Passover.

Ulla said: “Do you suppose that Jesus the Nazarene was one for whom a defense could be made? He was a mesit (someone who instigated Israel to idolatry), concerning whom the Merciful [God] says: Show him no compassion and do not shield him (Deut. 13:9). With Jesus the Nazarene it was different. For he was close to the government.[54][65][66][67]

Sanhedrin 43a[68] relates the trial and execution of a sorcerer named Jesus (Yeshu in Hebrew) and his five disciples. The sorcerer is stoned and hanged on the Eve of Passover.[69]

Sanhedrin 107[70] tells of a Jesus (“Yeshu”) “offended his teacher by paying too much attention to the inn-keeper’s wife. Jesus wished to be forgiven, but [his rabbi] was too slow to forgive him, and Jesus in despair went away and put up a brick [idol] and worshipped it.”[71]

In Gittin 56b, 57a[72] a story is mentioned in which Onkelos summons up the spirit of a Yeshu who sought to harm Israel. He describes his punishment in the afterlife as boiling in excrement.[73][74]

Some scholars claim that the Hebrew name Yeshu is not a short form of the name Yeshua, but rather an acrostic for the Hebrew phrase “may his name and memory be blotted out” created by taking the first letter of the Hebrew words.[75]

In addition, at the 1240 Disputation of Paris, Donin presented the allegation that the Talmud was blasphemous towards Mary, the mother of Jesus (Miriam in Hebrew), and this criticism has been repeated by many Christian sources.[76] The texts cited by critics include Sanhedrin 67a,[77] Sanhedrin 106a,[78] and Shabbath 104b.[79] However, the references to Mary are not specific, and some assert that they do not refer to Jesus’ mother, or perhaps refer to Mary Magdalen.[80]

Scholars have identified the following references in the Talmud that some conclude refer to Jesus:[81]

Sanhedrin 43a relates the trial and execution of Jesus and his five disciples.[82] Here, Jesus is a sorcerer who has enticed other Jews to apostasy. A herald is sent to call for witnesses in his favour for forty days before his execution. No one comes forth and in the end he is stoned and hanged on the Eve of Passover. His five disciples, named Matai, Nekai, Netzer, Buni, and Todah are then tried. Word play is made on each of their names, and they are executed. It is mentioned that leniency could not be applied because of Jesus’ influence with the royal government (malkhut).

Scholars have identified passages in the Talmud and associated Talmudic texts that involve invoking Jesus’ name, as the messiah of Christianity, in order to perform magical healing:[83]

Scholars have identified passages that mention Jesus, as the messiah of Christianity, in the context of a Torah teacher:[83]

Sanhedrin 103a and Berachot 17b talk about a Yeshu ha-Nosri (Jesus of Nazareth) who “burns his food in public”, possibly a reference to pagan sacrifices or a metaphor for apostasy.[85] The account is discussing Manasseh the king of Judah infamous for having turned to idolatry and having persecuted the Jews (2 Kings 21). It is part of a larger discussion about three kings and four commoners excluded from paradise. These are also discussed in the Shulkhan Arukh where the son who burns his food is explicitly stated to be Manasseh. The passages identified by scholars in this context are:[83]

Passages in Sanhedrin 107b and Sotah 47a refer to an individual (Yeshu) that some scholars conclude is a reference to Jesus, regarded as the messiah of Christianity. In these passages, Jesus is described as a student of Joshua ben Perachiah (second half of the 2nd century BCE), and he (Jesus) was sent away for misinterpreting a word that in context should have been understood as referring to the Inn; he instead understood it to mean the innkeeper’s wife (the same word can mean “inn” and “hostess”).[86] His teacher said “Here is a nice inn”, to which he replied “Her eyes are crooked”, to which his teacher responded “Evil one! Is this what you are occupied in?” (Gazing at women was considered sinful.) [87] After several returns for forgiveness he mistook Perachiah’s signal to wait a moment as a signal of final rejection, and so he turned to idolatry. Some passages that have been identified by scholars as mentioning Jesus, as the messiah of Christianity, in this context include:[88]

The full passage is:

In all circumstances (one should exercise) use the left hand to push (away) and the right (to) bring closeward ..not like Yehoshua ben Perachya who pushed him to Yeshu- with both hands.. (here the Talmud begins a narration) at the time that Yannai the king was executing the Rabbis, Shimon ben Shatach(s sister) hid Rabbi Yehoshua ben Perachya, he (then, subsequently was able to) go and run (escape) to Alexandria of Egypt. When there was (came) and (an era of) peace, Shimon ben Shatach sent to him (a letter:) from me Yerushalayim the holy city to you Alexander of Egypt -my sister, my husband dwells amongst you and I am sitting lonely said (Rabbi Yeshushua ben Perachya) I deduce (from the letter) that he (is enjoying)peace. As he (Rabbi Yehoshua ben Perachya) came they went up to a lodge, (they -at the lodge) stood for him with exemplary honor and did for him extended goodness. He sat and was in the midst of praising ‘how beautiful is this lodging (which also means innkeeper in Aramaic)’, (Yeshu) said to him My master, her eyes are misshaped. He said to him Evil one!, in this what you are busy with?! he brought out four hundred Shofars and excommunicated him.

Every day he would come before him (intent on being readmitted,) and he did not accept him. One day he was reciting Kriat Shema,[89] he (Yeshu) came before him (the Rabbi) -it was on his (the Rabbi’s) mind to accept him- he (the Rabbi) showed him with his hand, he (Yeshu) thought ‘he is pushing him’, (Yeshu then) went erected a fish worship, he (his Rabbi) said to him ‘return yourself’ he (Yeshu) said to him ‘(so) I learnt from you; ‘all who sin and cause others to sin we do not give (are not given) him the ability to repent’.

Sotah 47a, Sanhedrin 107

The story ends by invoking a Mishnaic era teaching that Yeshu practised black magic, deceived and led Israel astray. This quote is seen by some as an explanation in general for the designation Yeshu.

According to Dr. Rubenstein, the account in Sanhedrin 107b recognizes the kinship between Christians and Jews, since Jesus is presented as a disciple of a prominent Rabbi. But it also reflects and speaks to an anxiety fundamental to Rabbinic Judaism. Prior to the destruction of the Temple in 70, Jews were divided into different sects, each promoting different interpretations of the law. Rabbinic Judaism domesticated and internalized conflicts over the law, while vigorously condemning any sectarianism. In other words, rabbis are encouraged to disagree and argue with one another, but these activities must be carefully contained, or else they could lead to a schism. Although this story may not present a historically accurate account of Jesus’ life, it does use a fiction about Jesus to communicate an important truth about the Rabbis. Moreover, Rubenstein sees this story as a rebuke to overly harsh Rabbis. Boyarin suggests that the Rabbis were well aware of Christian views of the Pharisees and that this story acknowledges the Christian belief that Jesus was forgiving and the Pharisees were not (see Mark 2:12), while emphasizing forgiveness as a necessary Rabbinic value.[29]

In Gittin 56b-57a a story is recorded in which Onkelos, a nephew of the Roman emperor Titus who destroyed the Second Temple, intent on converting to Judaism, summons up the spirits of Yeshu and others to help make up his mind. Each describes his punishment in the afterlife.

The complete passage from the 1935 Soncino edition is:

Onkelos son of Kolonikos … went and raised Titus from the dead by magical arts, and asked him; ‘Who is most in repute in the [other] world? He replied: Israel. What then, he said, about joining them? He said: Their observances are burdensome and you will not be able to carry them out. Go and attack them in that world and you will be at the top as it is written, Her adversaries are become the head etc.; whoever harasses Israel becomes head. He asked him: What is your punishment [in the other world]? He replied: What I decreed for myself. Every day my ashes are collected and sentence is passed on me and I am burnt and my ashes are scattered over the seven seas. He then went and raised Balaam by incantations. He asked him: Who is in repute in the other world? He replied: Israel. What then, he said, about joining them? He replied: Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever. He then asked: What is your punishment? He replied: With boiling hot semen. He then went and raised by incantations Jesus [in Vilna edition: "the sinners of Israel"; "Jesus" appears in Munich 95 and Vatican 140 manuscripts and "he went and brought up Jesus the Nazarene" (Editions or MSs: Vatican 130)]. He asked them: Who is in repute in the other world? They replied: Israel. What about joining them? They replied: Seek their welfare, seek not their harm. Whoever touches them touches the apple of his eye. He said: What is your punishment? They replied: With boiling hot excrement, since a Master has said: Whoever mocks at the words of the Sages is punished with boiling hot excrement. Observe the difference between the sinners of Israel and the prophets of the other nations who worship idols. It has been taught: Note from this incident how serious a thing it is to put a man to shame, for God espoused the cause of Bar Kamza and destroyed His House and burnt His Temple.

Babylonian Talmud, Gittin 56b-57a

Scholars have identified passages that mention Jesus in the context of his execution:

The complete passage is: “On (Sabbath eve and) the eve of Passover Jesus the Nazarene was hanged and a herald went forth before him forty days heralding, ‘Jesus the Nazarene is going forth to be stoned because he practiced sorcery and instigated and seduced Israel to idolatry. Whoever knows anything in defense may come and state it.’ But since they did not find anything in his defense they hanged him on (Sabbath eve and) the eve of Passover. Ulla said: Do you suppose that Jesus the Nazarene was one for whom a defense could be made? He was a mesit (someone who instigated Israel to idolatry), concerning whom the Merciful [God]says: Show him no compassion and do not shield him (Deut. 13:9). With Jesus the Nazarene it was different. For he was close to the government.”[66][90]

In the Florence manuscript of the Talmud (1177 CE) an addition is made to Sanhedrin 43a saying that Yeshu was hanged on the eve of the Sabbath.[91]

Some Talmudic sources include passages which identify a “son of Pandera” (ben Pandera in Hebrew), and some scholars conclude that these are references to the messiah of Christianity.[92]

The Talmud, and other talmudic texts, contain several references to the “son of Pandera”. A few of the references explicitly name Jesus (“Yeshu”) as the “son of Pandera”: these explicit connections are found in the Tosefta, the Qohelet Rabbah, and the Jerusalem Talmud, but not in the Babylonian Talmud.[93] The explicit connections found in the Jerusalem Talmud are debated because the name “Jesus” (“Yeshu”) is found only in a marginal gloss in some manuscripts, but other scholars conclude that it was in the original versions of the Jerusalem Talmud.[94]

The texts include several spellings for the father’s name (Pandera, Panthera, Pandira, Pantiri, or Pantera) and some scholars conclude that these are all references to the same individual,[95] but other scholars suggest that they may be unrelated references.[96] In some of the texts, the father produced a son with a woman named Mary. Several of the texts indicate that the mother was not married to Pandera, and was committing adultery and by implication Jesus was a bastard child.[95] Some of the texts indicate that Mary’s husband’s name was Stada.

Some Talmudic sources include passages which identify a “son of Stada” or “son of Stara” (ben Stada or ben Stara in Hebrew), and some scholars conclude that these are references to the messiah of Christianity.[97]

Two talmudic-era texts that explicitly associate Jesus as the son of Pantera/Pandera are:

Both of the above passages describe situations where Jesus’ name is invoked to perform magical healing.[98] In addition, some editions of the Jerusalem Talmud explicitly identify Jesus as the son of Pandera:[99]

However, some editions of the Jerusalem Talmud do not contain the name Jesus in these passages, so the association in this case is disputed. The parallel passages in the Babylonian Talmud do not contain the name Jesus.

Other Talmudic narratives describe Jesus as the son of a Pantiri or Pandera, in a teaching context:[100]

However, the parallel accounts in the Babylonian Talmud mention Jesus but do not mention the father’s name:

The Babylonian talmud contains narratives that discuss an anonymous person who brought witchcraft out of Egypt, and the person is identified as “son of Pandera” or “son of Stada”. The Talmud discusses whether the individual (the name Jesus is not present in these passages) is the son of Stada, or Pandera, and a suggestion is made that the mother Mary committed adultery.[93]

There is no Talmudic text that directly associates Jesus with Mary (Miriam), instead the association is indirect: Jesus is associated with a father (“son of Pandera”), and in other passages, Pandera is associated with Mary (as her lover).[101]

Typically both Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds use the generic minim for heretics. Aside from mentions of the five disciples of “Yeshu ha Notzri,” the plural Notzrim, “Christians,” are only clearly mentioned once in the Babylonian Talmud, (where it is amended to Netzarim, people of the watch) in B.Ta’anit 27b with a late parallel in Masekhet Soferim 17:4.[102] And then “The day of the Notzri according to Rabbi Ishmael is forbidden for ever” in some texts of B.Avodah Zarah 6a.[103]

The Toledot Yeshu (History of Jesus) is a Jewish anti-Christian polemic that purports to be a biography of Jesus.[104] Some scholars conclude that the Toledot Yeshu is an expansion and elaboration on anti-Christian themes in the Talmud.[105] Stephen Gero suggests that an early version of the Toledot Yeshu narrative preceded the Talmud, and that the Talmud drew upon the Toledot Yeshu, but Rubenstein and Schfer discount that possibility, because they date the origin of the Toledot Yeshu in the early Middle Ages or Late Antiquity.[106]

The Platonistic philosopher Celsus, writing circa 150 to 200 CE, wrote a narrative describing a Jew who discounts the story of the Virgin Birth of Jesus.[107] Scholars have remarked on the parallels (adultery, father’s name “Panthera”, return from Egypt, magical powers) between Celsus’ account and the Talmudic narratives.[101] In Celsus’ account, the Jew says:

“. . .[Jesus] came from a Jewish village and from a poor country woman who earned her living by spinning. He says that she was driven out by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, as she was convicted of adultery. Then he says that after she had been driven out by her husband and while she was wandering about in a disgraceful way she secretly gave birth to Jesus. He states that because he [Jesus] was poor he hired himself out as a workman in Egypt, and there tried his hand at certain magical powers on which the Egyptians pride themselves; he returned full of conceit, because of these powers, and on account of them gave himself the title of God . . . the mother of Jesus is described as having been turned out by the carpenter who was betrothed to her, as she had been convicted of adultery and had a child by a certain soldier named Panthera.”[108][109]

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Jesus in the Talmud – Wikipedia

The Talmud |

The Talmud is the name given to the printed edition that includes both the Mishna and the Gemara.

If the Mishna is a very brief outline of the laws of the Oral Law, the Gemara is the explanation that fills in all the gaps. After the very brief, focused style of the Mishna, studying the Gemara presents a tremendous contrast. While it is concise (one or two words often translate to whole sentences in English), the Gemara will often branch off into long side discussions. By doing this the Gemara often appears to have forgetten the original question entirely until at last, when the smoke has cleared, every loose end is tied up.

Line by line, word by word, the rabbis of the Gemara (known as Amoraim) examine the Mishna and explain its intentions. You wont find Amoraim arguing with the rabbis of the Mishna. The goal of an Amorah was to explain, to clarify and often to resolve contradictions between one Mishna and another in order to come to the correct ruling the Halacha.

But it wasnt just Halacha that occupied the Amoraim, as the Gemara is much more than just a dry legal text book. The Gemara is a living portrait of a living nation. The student of Talmud is rewarded with a good peek into the private lives of unusually great people. We see their brilliant minds, their pain, their struggles, their relationships and even their jokes. We also see the common Jew of those centuries, his cares, problems and often remarkable dedication to a Torah life.

Theres purpose in every word of the Gemara every story and even every joke contains an invaluable lesson in how to live as a Jew. The Gemara depicts how every aspect of our lives (and not just the Halachic), must be in service of G-d. How much money should a man spend on the frivolous needs of his wife? How should he deal with bad-tempered kids? What kind of profit margin should he aim for in his business? Its all there, theres no area of the human condition that isnt touched by the words of the Talmud.

The Talmud (and, by extension, the study of the Talmud) has been the all consuming focus of the Jewish people for the past 1500 years. The intense effort this study demands has honed the Jewish mind and shaped both the Jew and his community.

The Talmud both defines and creates Judaism and many of our enemies know this. Over the centuries there has been no book more viciously searched for and destroyed by Christians than the Talmud. Many thousands of priceless, handwritten volumes of the Talmud (and other sacred Jewish books) were burned throughout the last thousand years of Jewish settlement in Europe. Many of the great libraries of Europe (including that of the Vatican itself) are filled with unique and valuable manuscripts of Talmudic commentary.

The fact that there are Jews alive today (and there are tens of thousands) who can still sing the song of the Talmud and the fact that there are still copies of the Talmud (and there are tens of thousands being printed every year) can be nothing else than the product of a great historical miracle.

And the fact that there is still a Jewish nation today and that G-ds Torah is still practiced by so many Jews is the direct result of that miracle.

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The Talmud |

Jerusalem Talmud – Wikipedia

The Jerusalem Talmud (Hebrew: , Talmud Yerushalmi, often Yerushalmi for short), also known as the Palestinian Talmud or Talmuda de-Eretz Yisrael (Talmud of the Land of Israel), is a collection of Rabbinic notes on the second-century Jewish oral tradition known as the Mishnah. Naming this version of the Talmud after Palestine or Land of Israel rather than Jerusalem is considered more accurate by some because, while the work was certainly composed in “the West” (as seen from Babylonia), i.e. in the Holy Land, it mainly originates from the Galilee rather than from Jerusalem in Judea, as no Jews lived in Jerusalem at this time[1][2] The Jerusalem Talmud was compiled in the Land of Israel, then divided between the Byzantine provinces of Palaestina Prima and Palaestina Secunda, and was brought to an end sometime around 400.[citation needed] The Jerusalem Talmud predates its counterpart, the Babylonian Talmud (known in Hebrew as the Talmud Bavli), by about 200 years,[citation needed] and is written in both Hebrew and Jewish Palestinian Aramaic.

The word Talmud itself is often defined as “instruction”.[3] Both versions of the Talmud comprise two parts, the Mishnah (of which there is only one version), which was finalized by Judah the Prince around the year 200 CE, and either the Babylonian or the Palestinian Gemara. The Gemara is what differentiates the Jerusalem Talmud from its Babylonian counterpart.

The Jerusalem Gemara contains the written discussions of generations of rabbis in the Land of Israel (primarily in the academies of Tiberias and Caesarea), compiled c. 350-400 CE into a series of books.[citation needed]

The Babylonian Gemara, which is the second recension of the Mishnah, was compiled by the scholars of Babylonia (primarily in the Talmudic academies of Sura and Pumbedita), and was completed c. 500. The Babylonian Talmud is often seen as more authoritative and is studied much more than the Jerusalem Talmud. In general, the terms “Gemara” or “Talmud,” without further qualification, refer to the Babylonian recension.

Following the redaction of the Mishnah, many Jewish scholars living in Roman-controlled Syria Palaestina moved to the Sasanian Empire to escape the harsh decrees against Jews enacted by the emperor Hadrian after the Bar Kokhba revolt. The remaining scholars who lived in the Galilee area decided to continue their teaching activity in the learning centers that had existed since Mishnaic times.

The Jerusalem Talmud probably originated in Tiberias in the School of Johanan bar Nappaha. It is a compilation of teachings of the schools of Tiberias, Sepphoris and Caesarea. It is written largely in Jewish Palestinian Aramaic, a Western Aramaic variety 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 Talmudic Academies in Syria Palaestina (principally those of Tiberias and Caesarea). Because of their location, the sages of these Academies devoted considerable attention to analysis of the agricultural laws of the Land of Israel. Traditionally, the redaction of this Talmud was thought to have been brought to an abrupt end around 425, when Theodosius II suppressed the Nasi and put an end to the practice of semikhah (formal scholarly ordination). It was thought that the compilers of the Jerusalem Talmud lacked the time to produce a work of the quality they had intended, and that this is the reason why the Gemara do not comment upon the whole Mishnah.[4]

In recent years scholars have come to doubt the causal link between the abolition of the Nasi and the seeming incompletion of the final redaction. However, as no evidence exists of Amoraim activity in Palestine after the 370s, it is still considered very likely that the final redaction of the Palestinian Talmud took place in the late fourth or early fifth century.[5]

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia,

Yerushalmi has not been preserved in its entirety; large portions of it were entirely lost at an early date, while other parts exist only in fragments. The editio princeps (ed. Bomberg, Venice, 1523 et seq.), based on the Leiden manuscript and on which all later editions are based, terminates with the following remark: “Thus far we have found what is contained in this Talmud; and we have endeavored in vain to obtain the missing portions.” Of the four manuscripts used for this first edition (comp. the note at the conclusion of Shab. xx. 17d and the passage just cited), only one is now in existence; it is preserved in the library of the University of Leyden (see below). Of the six orders of the Mishnah, the fifth, odashim, is missing entirely from the Palestinian Talmud, while the sixth, ohorot, contains only the first three chapters of the treatise Niddah (iv. 48d-51b).

The Leiden Jerusalem Talmud (Or. 4720) is today the only extant complete manuscript of the Jerusalem Talmud. It was copied in 1289 by Rabbi Yechiel ben Yekutiel the Physician of Rome and shows elements of a later recension. The additions which are added in the biblical glosses of the Leiden manuscript do not appear in extant fragments of the same Talmudic tractates found in Yemen,[6] additions which are now incorporated in every printed edition of the Jerusalem Talmud.

The Leiden manuscript is important in that it preserves some earlier variants to textual readings, such as in Tractate Pesachim 10:3 (70a), which brings down the old Palestinian-Hebrew word for charoseth (the sweet relish eaten at Passover), viz. dkeh (Hebrew: ), instead of rbeh/rabah (Hebrew: ), saying with a play on words: The members of Isse’s household would say in the name of Isse: Why is it called dkeh? It is because she pounds [the spiced ingredients] with him. The Hebrew word for “pound” is dakh (), which rules out the spelling of rabah (), as found in the printed editions. Yemenite Jews still call it dkeh.[7]

There are significant differences between the two Talmud compilations. The language of the Jerusalem Talmud is Jewish Palestinian Aramaic, a Western Aramaic dialect which differs from that of the Babylonian. The Jerusalem Talmud is often fragmentary and difficult to read, even for experienced Talmudists. The redaction of the Babylonian Talmud, on the other hand, is more careful and precise. The traditional explanation for this difference was the idea that the redactors of the Jerusalem Talmud had to finish their work abruptly. A more probable explanation is the fact that the Babylonian Talmud wasn’t redacted for at least another 200 years, in which a broad discursive framework was created. The law as laid down in the two compilations is basically similar, except in emphasis and in minor details. Some scholars, for example David Weiss Halivni, describe the longer discursive passages in the Babylonian Talmud as the “Stammaitic” layer of redaction, and believe that it was added later than the rest: if one were to remove the “Stammaitic” passages, the remaining text would be quite similar in character to the Jerusalem Talmud.

Neither the Jerusalem nor the Babylonian Talmud covers the entire Mishnah: for example, a Babylonian Gemara exists only for 37 out of the 63 tractates of the Mishnah. In particular:

The Babylonian Talmud records the opinions of the rabbis of Israel as well as of those of Babylonia, while the Jerusalem Talmud seldom cites the Babylonian rabbis. The Babylonian version contains the opinions of more generations because of its later date of completion. For both these reasons it is regarded as a more comprehensive collection of the opinions available. On the other hand, because of the centuries of redaction between the composition of the Jerusalem and the Babylonian Talmud, the opinions of early amoraim might be closer to their original form in the Jerusalem Talmud.

The influence of the Babylonian Talmud has been far greater than that of the Jerusalem Talmud. 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. Hai Gaon, on the preeminence of the Babylonian Talmud, has written:

Anything that has been decided halachically in our Talmud (i.e. the Babylonian Talmud), we do not rely on [any contradictory view found in] the Jerusalem Talmud, seeing that many years have passed since instruction coming from there (i.e. the Land of Israel) had ceased on account of persecution, whereas here (i.e. in Babylonia) is where the final decisions were clarified.[9]

However, on the Jerusalem Talmuds continued importance for the understanding of arcane matters, Rabbi Hai Gaon has also written:

Whatever we find in the Jerusalem Talmud and there is nothing that contradicts it in our own Talmud (i.e. the Babylonian Talmud), or which gives a nice explanation for its matters of discourse, we can hold-on to it and rely upon it, for it is not to be viewed as inferior to the commentaries of the rishonim (i.e. the early exponents of the Torah).[10]

In addition, 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 Chananel ben Chushiel and Nissim ben Jacob, with the result that opinions ultimately based on the Jerusalem Talmud found their way into both the Tosafot and the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides.

The Babylonian Talmud has traditionally been studied more widely and has had greater influence on the halakhic tradition than the Jerusalem Talmud. However, some traditions associated with the Jerusalem Talmud are reflected in certain forms of the liturgy, particularly those of the Italian Jews and Romaniotes.

Following the formation of the modern state of Israel there was some interest in restoring the Palestinian Talmud’s traditions. For example, David Bar-Hayim of the Makhon Shilo institute has issued a siddur reflecting the practices found in the Jerusalem Talmud and other sources.

Compared to the Babylonian Talmud, the Jerusalem Talmud has not received as much attention from commentators, and such traditional commentaries as exist are mostly concerned with proving that its teachings are identical to Bavli.

One of the first to make a commentary on the Jerusalem Talmud was Solomon Sirilio (14851554), whose commentaries cover only the Order known as Zeraim and the Sheqalim section of the Moed.[11] Sirilio’s commentary remained in manuscript form until 1875, when it was first printed in Mainz by Meir Lehmann. Today’s modern printed editions almost all carry the commentaries, Korban ha-Eida, by David ben Naphtali Frnkel (c. 17041762) of Berlin, and Pnei Moshe, by Moses Margolies (c.1710?1781) of Amsterdam.

A modern edition and commentary, known as Or Simchah, is currently being prepared in Beersheba; another edition in preparation, including paraphrases and explanatory notes in modern Hebrew, is Yedid Nefesh. The Jerusalem Talmud has also received some attention from Adin Steinsaltz, who plans a translation into modern Hebrew and accompanying explanation similar to his work on the Babylonian Talmud.[12] So far only Tractates Pe’ah and Shekalim have appeared.[13]

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Jerusalem Talmud – Wikipedia

Talmud | Define Talmud at

[tahl-moo d, -muh d, tal-] /tl md, -md, tl-/

Spell Syllables

the collection of Jewish law and tradition consisting of the Mishnah and the Gemara and being either the edition produced in Palestine a.d. c400 or the larger, more important one produced in Babylonia a.d. c500.

Origin of Talmud Expand

British Dictionary definitions for Talmud Expand

the primary source of Jewish religious law, consisting of the Mishnah and the Gemara

either of two recensions of this compilation, the Palestinian Talmud of about 375 ad, or the longer and more important Babylonian Talmud of about 500 ad

Derived Forms

Talmudic, Talmudical, adjectiveTalmudism, noun

Word Origin

C16: from Hebrew talmdh, literally: instruction, from lmadh to learn

Word Origin and History for Talmud Expand

body of Jewish traditional ceremonial and civil law, 1530s, from late Hebrew talmud “instruction” (c.130 C.E.), from lama-d “to teach.” Related: Talmudic.

Talmud in Culture Expand

Collections of commentaries on biblical texts that form, with the Torah, the foundation for the religious laws of Judaism.

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Talmud | Define Talmud at

Gemara – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Gemara (also transliterated Gemora, Gemarah or, less commonly, Gemorra; ” noun – from Aramaic verb gamar, literally, “study”) is the component of the Talmud comprising rabbinical analysis of and commentary on the Mishnah. After the Mishnah was published by Judah HaNasi (c. 200 CE), the work was studied exhaustively by generation after generation of rabbis in Babylonia and the Land of Israel. Their discussions were written down in a series of books that became the Gemara, which when combined with the Mishnah constituted the Talmud.

There are two versions of the Gemara. The Jerusalem Talmud (Talmud Yerushalmi) was compiled by scholars of the Land of Israel, primarily of the academies of Tiberias and Caesarea, which was published between about 350400 CE. The Talmud Bavli was published about 500 CE by scholars of Babylonia, primarily of the academies of Sura, Pumbedita, and Mata Mehasia. By convention, a reference to the “Gemara” or “Talmud,” without further qualification, refers to the Babylonian version, see Talmud.

The Gemara and the Mishnah together make up the Talmud. The Talmud thus comprises two components: the Mishnah the core text; and the Gemara analysis and commentary which “completes” the Talmud (see Structure of the Talmud).

The rabbis of the Mishnah are known as Tannaim (sing. Tanna ). The rabbis of the Gemara are referred to as Amoraim (sing. Amora ).

Because there are two Gemaras, there are in fact two Talmuds: the Jerusalem Talmud (Hebrew: , “Talmud Yerushalmi”), and the Babylonian Talmud (Hebrew: , “Talmud Bavli”), corresponding to the Jerusalem Gemara and the Babylonian Gemara; both share the same Mishnah. The Gemara is mostly written in Aramaic, the Jerusalem Gemara in Western Aramaic and the Babylonian in Eastern Aramaic, but both contain portions in Hebrew. Sometimes the language changes in the middle of a story.

In a narrow sense, the word Gemara refers to the mastery and transmission of existing tradition, as opposed to sevara, which means the deriving of new results by logic. Both activities are represented in the “Gemara” as a literary work. The term “gemara” for the activity of study is far older than its use as a description of any text: thus Pirke Avot (Ch.5), a work long preceding the recording of the Talmud, recommends starting “Mishnah” at the age of 10 and “Gemara” at the age of 15.

The analysis of the Amoraim is generally focused on clarifying the positions, words and views of the Tannaim. These debates and exchanges form the “building-blocks” of the gemara; the name for such a passage of gemara is a sugya (; plural sugyot). A sugya will typically comprise a detailed proof-based elaboration of the Mishna. Every aspect of the Mishnaic text is treated as a subject of close investigation. This analysis is aimed at an exhaustive understanding of the Mishna’s full meaning.

In the Talmud, a sugya is presented as a series of responsive hypotheses and questions with the Talmudic text as a record of each step in the process of reasoning and derivation. The Gemara thus takes the form of a dialectical exchange (by contrast, the Mishnah states concluded legal opinions and often differences in opinion between the Tannaim. There is little dialogue). The disputants here are termed the makshan (questioner, “one who raises a difficulty”) and tartzan (answerer, “one who puts straight”).

The gemara records the semantic disagreements between Tannaim and Amoraim. Some of these debates were actually conducted by the Amoraim, though many of them are hypothetically reconstructed by the Talmud’s redactors. (Often imputing a view to an earlier authority as to how he may have answered a question: “This is what Rabbi X could have argued …”) Rarely are debates formally closed.

The distinctive character of the gemara derives largely from the intricate use of argumentation and debate, described above. In each sugya, either participant may cite scriptural, Mishnaic and Amoraic proof to build a logical support for their respective opinions. The process of deduction required to derive a conclusion from a prooftext is often logically complex and indirect. “Confronted with a statement on any subject, the Talmudic student will proceed to raise a series of questions before he satisfies himself of having understood its full meaning.” [1]. This analysis is often described as “mathematical” in approach; Adin Steinsaltz makes the analogy of the Amoraim as scientists investigating the Halakha, where the Tanakh, Mishnah, Tosefta and midrash are the phenomena studied.

Prooftexts quoted to corroborate or disprove the respective opinions and theories will include:

The actual debate will usually centre on the following categories:

Why does the Mishna use one word rather than another? If a statement is not clear enough, the Gemara seeks to clarify the Mishna’s intention.

Exploring the logical principles underlying the Mishnah’s statements, and showing how different understandings of the Mishnah’s reasons could lead to differences in their practical application. What underlying principle is entailed in a statement of fact or in a specific instance brought as an illustration? If a statement appears obvious, the Gemara seeks the logical reason for its necessity. It seeks to answer under which circumstances a statement is true, and what qualifications are permissible. All statements are examined for internal consistency.

Resolving contradictions, perceived or actual, between different statements in the Mishnah, or between the Mishnah and other traditions; e.g., by stating that: two conflicting sources are dealing with differing circumstances; or that they represent the views of different Rabbis. Do certain authorities differ or not? If they do, why do they differ? If a principle is presented as a generalization, the gemara clarifies how much is included; if an exception, how much is excluded.

Demonstrating how the Mishnah’s rulings or disputes, derive from interpretations of Biblical texts. The Gemara will often ask where in the Torah the Mishnah derives a particular law. See Talmudic hermeneutics.

Originally posted here:
Gemara – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 2 Peter 1: 20-21

What about the Bible? Is Scripture sufficient in itself and considered by the Hebrew Roots ministries to be the inerrant Word of God? Are the Old and New Testament the complete revelation of God’s will for the salvation of man. Do they constitute the divine and only rule of Christian faith and practice? Or is it true as stated by Peter Michas that we must return to the Hebrew or Aramaic writings and the Oral traditions of Judaism for New Testament doctrine?

“since existing New Testament manuscripts are Greek, written to express Hebraic concepts, why be limited to the Greek or English translations when we have Hebrew, The New Testament is in the pattern of the Jewish traditional work of Torah, Mishnah, Haggadah, Halakah, Talmud and Midrash, but inspired by God Himself for the common people.”

Hyam Maccoby, grandson to the famous Rabbi Haim Zundel Maccoby, the Polish Kamenitzer Maggid, [spirit guide], expounds the view of Peter Michas and other Hebrew Roots advocates that the Gospels were written in an era of extreme prejudice and hatred towards the Jews and that this anti-Semitism was reflected in the New Testament. Hyam Maccoby impugns the accounts of Mark and Luke:

“What had been the history of the Christian Church since the death of Jesus? The bulk of the New Testament which purports to give this history is The Acts of the Apostles; but this is a Gentile-Christian composition written about 100 A.D. by Luke, giving a Gentile-Christian slant to the events of those years. By reading between the lines of Acts, by following using a supplementary sources such as Josephus, the Talmud and early Christian historians, we can reconstruct the true history of the early church.” 5.

Error in the Bible?

Other Hebraic Roots and related groups make the excuse that there is error in the Christian Bible. Promoting their NEW Translation called The Book of Yahweh, the House of Yahweh disparages the Bible:

“Wisdom of the Ancients” bears an uneasy resemblance to Ancient Wisdom, which is the esoteric term used by occultists for Gnosis or Mysticism. William Kingsland wrote of this wisdom in his book, The Gnosis or Ancient Wisdom in the Christian Scriptures: Or the Wisdom in a Mystery:

Perhaps Peter Michas is correct in saying that we need to understand the original concepts from history and as they are taught now particularly from these books and the Jewish people themselves. Obviously, they would hold the keys to the Hebrew Roots of Christianity as taught by the Jewish sages. Avi ben Mordechai, an Orthodox Sephardic Jew, claims that the ancient Jewish teachers of the Law hold the answers:

However, 1 Corinthians 2:5 states: “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”

Primacy of the Talmud

Author, Nesta Webster quotes Talmud translator, Michael Rodkinson’s view of the importance of the Talmud in Jewish life and the lesser importance of Scripture given by the Talmud:

The Babylonian Talmud states that man can debate God and win: “A rabbi debates God and defeats Him. God admits the rabbi won the debate.” Baba Mezia 59b.

Maimonides defines the various ways one would be considered a denier of the Law, referring not to the Bible, but the oral law as set down by the sages:

Who are the scribes whose words (the oral law) must be listened to and obeyed above all the written law? Quoting again from Hyam Maccobys, Revolution in Judaea, the following explanation is given of the terms Pharisee, Sadducee, scribes and rabbis, at the time of Christ.

The Pharisees and Sadducees were both believers in the word given by God to man, but the Pharisees added extra-Biblical oral teachings as authority over the written Word of God. They called the Sadducees heretics for not doing so. Those in the Hebrew Roots movement parallel the Pharisees in that they look to these extra-Biblical works for their guidance—and advise Christians to follow suit.

However, Jesus said of the Sadducees: “…ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God…” Mark 12:24

Exclusiveness of the Talmud

Hebrew Roots and Nazarene teachers advise Christians to study the Talmud; however, the Talmud itself teaches that its precepts are only for the Jews. P.L.B. Drach states in his De l’ Harmonie entre l’Elise et la Synagogue,

It should be noted that Mr. Drachs knowledge comes firsthand: “The Jewish Encyclopdia has an article on Drach in which it says he was brought up in a Talmudic school” 24.

Is this what Larry Rowland means by “understanding in order to grasp all that scripture has to offer”? Considering the immense importance of the Talmud in Hebrew thought and Hebraic Roots teachings, it behooves Christians to understand the nature and contents of the Talmud.

The Talmud

Avi ben Mordechai has redefined the gospel as the Oral Torah:

The Talmud itself affirms, again, the authority of its own teachings in Erubin 21b (Soncino edition): “My son, be more careful in the observance of the words of the Scribes than in the words of the Torah (Old Testament).”

“Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.” Titus 1:14

Global Unity

Project Genesis is connected to such Hebrew Roots sites as Larry Rowland’s Messengers of Truth. The purpose of Project Genesis includes education about Jewish roots: “Project Genesis promotes further Jewish education about our Jewish roots, as represented in Jewish sources”

According to their Facts: “Our teachers are Orthodox, so they approach the tradition from a traditional perspective (which is logical, after all). But our program so carefully avoids labels and politics that Conservative and Reform Rabbis have actively expressed their support of the program to their congregants and colleagues.”33.

The term Halacha is used frequently when discussing the Midrash, Mishnah and Talmudic teachings. What is Halacha?

With that in mind we see from the Hypertext Halacha, distributed by Project Genesis, a list of topics from these Sacred Jewish books, relevant to everyday life. A few of these are:

“. . .the oddest rabbinical conceits are elaborated through many volumes with the finest dialectic, and absurd questions are discussed with the highest efforts of intellectual power: for example, how many white hairs may a red cow have, and yet remain a red cow; what sort of scabs require this or that purification; whether a louse or a flea may be killed on the Sabbath-the first being allowed, while the second is a deadly sin; whether the slaughter of an animal ought to be executed at the neck or the tail; whether the high priest put on his shirt or his hose first; whether the Jabam, that is, the brother of a man who died childless, being required by law to marry the widow, is relieved from his obligation if he falls off a roof and sticks in the mire.” 38.

Avi ben Mordechai, an Orthodox Sephardic Jew, indicates that we need to incorporate the Jewish “halacha” teachings in order for “believers” to be unified globally. His intention is that Jewish teachers and eventually a Jewish high court should be in place in order to teach us the Law.

Here we have a glimpse of the true agenda behind the Hebrew Roots Movement: to return mankind to the Law as interpreted by a high court reminiscent of the Sanhedrin! Yet the New Testament boldly states that Christians are no longer under Law but have “become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even him who was raised from the dead, that ye should bring forth fruit from God. (Rom. 7:4) How can Jews and Christians be unified as “believers” if each community believes a different gospel? Moreover, what is the Jewish attitude toward Jesus Christ, the Savior who liberates men from bondage to the Law? To discover the Rabbinic view of Jesus Christ, we must take a closer look at the Talmud, which Jews regard as superior to both the Old and New Testaments.



1. Peter Michas, http://www.ez/com/~peterm/HB.GK.RF.HTML 2. Fitzmeyer, “Responses to 101 Questions on the Dead Sea Scrolls; p.104 ; as cited in Andrew Gould’s Some Disturbing Aspects of the So-Called ‘Hebrew Roots Movement,’ and Their Implications”. 3. Unger’s Bible Dictionary p. 706, Ibid. 4. Ibid p.422 Ibid. 5. Hyam Maccoby; “Revolution in Judaea: Jesus and the Jewish Resistance”; p. 230, ii. Ocean Books; 1973 6. House of Yahweh, 7. Jacob Prasch; Explaining the Midrash; 8. Ibid. 9. Kingsland, William. THE GNOSIS OR ANCIENT WISDOM IN THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES: OR THE WISDOM IN A MYSTERY; London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1954 (1937), Kingsland, p.83 10. Avi ben Mordechai; 11. Michael Rodkinson (i.e. Rodkinssohn), in Preface to the translation of the Talmud, Vol. I. p. x. ; as Cited in: Nesta H. Webster, p. 370-371., “Secret Societies and Subversive Movements” Omni Publications, Eighth edition, 196412. Rev. I. B. Pranaitis; The Talmud Unmasked: The Secret Rabbinical Teachings Concerning Christians; The Talmud; 13. Ibid. 14. Ibid. 15. Pranaitis, op.cit. 16. Maccoby, op.cit., p.77-78 17. Ibid., p. 74 18. Ibid., p.74-75 19. Ibid., p.75 20. Ibid., p..76 21. Ibid., p.77 22. Ibid., p.281 23. P.L.B. Drach, De lHarmonie entre lElise et la Synagogue, I. 167. Cited in: Nesta H. Webster, op. cit. p.371 24. Webster, Ibid., p.11-12 25. Rev. I. B. Pranaitis; 26. Avi ben Mordechai, email to Ed Tarkowski, May 1998 27. Ibid. 28. Fabre d’ Olivet, La Langue He’braique, p.28 (1815); 2. According to the Jewish view God had given Moses on Mt. Sinai alike the oral and the written Law, that is, the Law with all its interpretations and applications.”-Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah,I.99 (1883)quoting other Jewish authorities; as Cited in Nesta H. Webster; Ibid., p.6 29. Kabbalah in English, 30. Ibid. 31. Ibid. 32. Maccoby, op.cit., p. 281 33. Project Genesis, 34. Hypertext Halacha; 35. Torah and Halachic Authority (3/12) – What is “Halacha?” How is it determined?; 36. 37. Hypertext Halacha; 38. Solomon Maimon: an Autobiography, translated from the German by J. Clark Murray, p. 28 (1888). The original appeared in 1792. As Cited in: Webster ; op.cit. p. 7 39. Avi ben Mordechai, Halacha;

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History Crash Course #39: The Talmud – The Jewish Website

At various times during the Hadrian persecutions, the sages were forced into hiding, though they managed to reconvene at Usha in 122 CE, and then in a time of quiet managed to re-establish again at Yavneh in 158 CE.

With so much persecution and unrest, with the Jewish people fleeing the land of Israel, the rabbis knew that they would not be able to keep a central seat of rabbinic power alive for long.

Yet, during these great periods of chaos, some of the finest rabbinic minds made their mark. Among them:

Yehudah HaNasi

Now, another man was to emerge and make his mark the son of Rabbi Shimon Ben Gamliel II Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi (in English “Judah, the Prince”).

In a time of chaos, the rabbis decide that they must do the unprecedented write down the Oral Law.

He is one personality who is absolutely fundamental to understanding this period of time, and one of the greatest personalities of Jewish history.

So great was he that he is now affectionately referred to in Jewish scholarship as only Rebbe.

He had a unique combination of attributes being both a great Torah scholar and a strong leader that gave him the power to lead the Jewish people at this chaotic time. He was also a man of tremendous personal wealth, which put him in a position to wheel and deal and do what needed to get done, not just with the Jews in the Land of Israel but with the Roman authorities as well.

Hadrian dies in 139 C.E and with his death came an improvement in the treatment of the Jewish community in Israel. During a period of relative quiet, Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi managed to befriend the Roman emperors who succeeded Hadrian, particularly Marcus Aurelius (161-180 C.E.). Writes historian Rabbi Berel Wein in his Echoes of Glory (p. 224):

The years of Marcus Aurelius’ reign, ending in his death in 180, was the high-water mark in the intercourse between Rome and the Jews. The Jews, under the leadership of Rabbi [Yehudah HaNasi], would use this period of blissful respite to prepare themselves for the struggle of darker days surely lurking around the corner.

At this time circa 170-200 CE the Mishnah was born.


What is the Mishnah?

In past installments we discussed the fact that at Mount Sinai the Jewish people received the Written Torah and the Oral Torah. The Oral Torah was the oral explanation of how the written laws should be executed and followed.

The Oral Torah passed from generation to generation and was never written down(2). Why? Because the Oral Torah was meant to be fluid. The principles stayed the same, but the application of those principles was meant to be adapted to all types of new circumstances.

This worked exceptionally well as long as the central authority the Sanhedrin remained intact, and the chain of transmission was not interrupted. (That is, teachers were able to freely pass on their wisdom to the next generation of students.) But in the days since the destruction of the Temple, the Sanhedrin had been repeatedly uprooted and teachers had to go into hiding.

Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi realized that things would not get better any time soon. He saw that the Temple would not be rebuilt in his generation and possibly in many generations to come. He saw the Jews fleeing the land as a result of the constant persecutions and impossible living conditions. He saw that the central authority was weaker than ever and might cease altogether To make sure that the chain of transmission would never be broken, he decided that the time had come to write down the Oral Torah.(3)

This was a mammoth undertaking. Although much of the work may have already been done by previous generations of rabbis, the monumental task of editing, explaining and organizing this vast amount of material was left to Rabbi Yehudah. The end result of this massive undertaking was a definitive, yet cryptic (the basic principles were all there yet a teacher was still required to elucidate the material) version of the entire Oral Law called the Mishnah. (Incidentally, the word Mishnah means “repetition” because it was studied by repeating; Mishnah then, by extension, means “learning.”) Maimonides, in his introduction to his Mishneh Torah, explains it as follows:

He gathered together all the traditions, enactments, and interpretations and expositions of every position of the Torah, that either come down from Moses, out teacher, or had been deduced by the courts in successive generations. All this material he redacted in the Mishnah, which was diligently taught in public, and thus became universally known among the Jewish people. Copies of it were made and widely disseminated, so that the Oral Law might not be forgotten in Israel

Six Categories of Jewish Law

The Mishnah, which is written in Hebrew, is divided into six basic segments or “orders” and further subdivided into 63 tractates with a total of 525 chapters. These 6 segments dealing with six basic areas of Jewish law:

Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi finished the Mishnah in ca. 190 CE in the town of Tzipori in the Galilee. You can visit the site today which is very interesting from an archeological perspective. At a site called Beit She’arim (where the Sanhedrin had previously been located prior to its move to Tzipori), there is a vast number of burial caves carved into the side of a mountain. Based on evidence found at the site, archaeologists believe that one of these caves contains the grave of Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi, along with many other great scholars of that time.

Not long after the death of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi the period know as the era of the Tannaim came to a close. The term Tanna, is derived from the Aramaic word “to teach” and covered a period of 200 years from ca.10 B.C.E. to 200 C.E. beginning with Rabbi Shimon the son of Hillel the Elder and ending with Rabbi Yossi ben Yehuda.

Writing The Talmud

During the centuries following the completion of the Mishnah, the chain of transmission of the Oral law was further weakened by a number of factors: Economic hardship and increased persecution of the Jewish community in Israel caused many Jews, including many rabbis, to flee the country. Many of these rabbis emigrated to Babylon in the Persian Empire. The role of the rabbis of Israel as the sole central authority of the Jewish people was coming to an end.

This decentralization of Torah authority and lack of consensus among the rabbis led to further weakening of the transmission process. It became clear to the sages of this period that the Mishnah alone was no longer clear enough to fully explain the Oral Law. It was written in shorthand fashion and in places was cryptic. This is because it was very concise, written on the assumption that the person reading it was already well-acquainted with the subject matter.

So they began to have discussions about it and to write down the substance of these discussions.

Since at this time a significant portion of the Jewish population was living in Babylon, which was outside the bounds of the Roman Empire, the rabbis there put together their discussions, the end product of which was called Talmud Bavli or the Babylonian Talmud. Even before this process had begun in Babylon, in the land of Israel, another set of discussions took place and the end result was Talmud Yerushalmi or the Jerusalem Talmud. (Incidentally, the Jerusalem Talmud was not written in Jerusalem; it was written in Tiberias, the last place where the Sanhedrin sat, but was called the Jerusalem Talmud in deference to the Sanhedrin’s rightful home.)

Due to persecution of the Jewish community in Israel the Jerusalem Talmud, completed in the mid 4th century C.E., was never completed or fully edited. The Jerusalem Talmud is much shorter (it contains only four of the six sections of the Mishnah(4)) and is more cryptic and harder to understand than the Babylonian Talmud. The situation of the Jews in Babylon was much more stable and the rabbis in Babylon had considerably more time to edit and explain the subject matter.

Although there are two Talmuds, they are not really separate. The Rabbis of Babylon had access to the Jerusalem Talmud while they were working on their text. But if there is dispute between the two Talmuds, the Babylonian Talmud is followed.(5) Both because Babylonian Talmud is considered more authoritative and the Jerusalem Talmud is more difficult to study, Jewish students pouring over the Talmud in yeshiva are using chiefly the Babylonian Talmud. The Talmud is more than just an application of the details of the Jewish law as expounded in the Mishnahh. It’s the encyclopedia of all Jewish existence.

The Talmud also contains a lot of agadata these are stories that are meant to illustrate important points in the Jewish worldview. These stories contain a wealth of information on a huge range of topics. you name it, it’s in there.

This information was vital to the Jewish people because Jewish law was never applied by reading a sentence in the Torah and executing it to the letter. Take for example, “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.” It was never Jewish law that if someone blinded you, that you should go and blind him. What is the good of having two blind people? It was always understood on two levels: 1) that justice must be proportional (it’s not a life for an eye) and 2) that it means the value of an eye for the value of the eye, referring to monetary damages. Thus, the Talmud presented the written and oral tradition together.

To read the Talmud is to read a lot of arguments. On every page it seems that the rabbis are arguing. This kind of argument the purpose of which was to arrive at the kernel of truth is called pilpul. This word has a negative connotation outside the yeshiva world, as people read these arguments and it seems to the uneducated eye that the rabbis are merely splitting hairs, and that some of the arguments have absolutely no basis in everyday life. But this is not so.

The reason why the rabbis argued about things that may not have any application to everyday life was to try to get to truth in an abstract way to understand the logic and to extract the principle. These rabbis were interested in knowing what reality is and in doing the right thing. Reality is what Judaism is all about the ultimate reality being God.

Another important point is that much of the discussion and dispute is focused on relatively minor points while the larger issues are generally not disputed. You don’t see a single argument as to whether or not you eat pork, or whether or not you can light a fire on the Sabbath. These things were a given, they were totally agreed upon. Only small points were subject to discussion. And these rabbis were wise enough to know that a day would come when the principles established by getting to the core kernel of truth would have far reaching implications.


When you look at the page of the Babylonian Talmud today, you will find the Hebrew text of the Mishnah is featured in the middle of the page. Interspersed between the Hebrew of the Mishnah are explanations in both Hebrew and Aramaic which are called the Gemara.

The Aramaic word Gemara means “tradition.” In Hebrew, the word Gemara means “completion.” Indeed, the Gemara is a compilation of the various rabbinic discussions on the Mishnah, and as such completes the understanding of the Mishnah.

The texts of the Mishnah and Gemara are then surrounded by other layers of text and commentaries from a later period.

The text of the Mishnah is quoting rabbis who lived from about 100 BCE to 200 CE. These rabbi are called the Tanaim, “teachers.” In this group are included such greats as Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, Rabbi Akiva, and of course Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi. (In the Gemara, they usually have the title Rebbe before their first name although there are many exceptions such as the names: Hillel, Shamai, Ben Azai and Ben Zoma.)

The text of the Gemara is quoting the rabbis who lived from about 200 CE to about 500 CE. These rabbis are called, Amoraim, “explainers” or “interpreters.” In this group are included Rav Ashi, Reb Yochanan, etc. (Names of the Babylonian Amoraim usually are preceeded by the title Rav as opposed to the Amoraim of Israel who continued to use the title Rabbi/Rebbe. This is because the authentic institution of smicha rabbinic ordination was only done in the Land of Israel.)

The surrounding text of today’s Talmud also quotes Rishonim, literally “the first ones,” rabbinic authorities (from c. 1,000 C.E. until 1,500 C.E.) who predated Rabbi Joseph Caro, the 16th century author of the code of Jewish law known as the Shulchan Aruch. Among the most prominent Rishonim are Rashi, his students and descendants who were the chief authors of the Tosafos, Maimonides and Nachmanides. We will discuss the contributions of these rabbis in future installments.

Just how important was the work of Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi and those that followed him would become very clear in the next hundred years when the Jewish people face another threat to their religion. This is when the Roman Empire decides to convert its entire population to Christianity.

1) See Talmud Avodah Zara 10a-b; Breishit Rabbah 67:6; 75:5 2)See Midrash Tanchuma Ki Tisa 34; Talmud Gittin 60a; 3) For a detailed explanation of actions of Rebbi Yehuda HaNasi see Maimonides, Introduction to Mishneh Torah. See also Iggerot of Rabbi Sheriram Gaon 1:1. 4) The Baylonian Talmud covers tractates: Moed, Nashim, Nezikin and Kodshim, while the Jerusalem Talmud covers tractates Moed, Nashim, Nezikin and Zeraim. 5)See Rif on Talmud Eruvin 35b

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History Crash Course #39: The Talmud – The Jewish Website

Talmud – Early Jewish Writings

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Ernest R. Trattner writes: “The destruction of the Jewish National State and the burning of the Temple necessitated tremendous changes of a structural nature. Many old regulations had to be abolished. The High Court at Jamnia also took upon itself the power to suspend certain Biblical laws which were either obsolete or incapable of being fulfilled due to changed conditions. Of the many prohibitions abrogated by the rabbis none benefitted Judaism more than setting aside the age-old tradition against putting the Oral Law into written form. Despite the fact that for centuries it was regarded as a serious transgression of Judaism to commit any part of the Oral Law into writing, the demands of the new age were entirely too compelling to be denied. The time had now come when the memory of the sages (even as it was trained in those days) could no longer hold the vast accumulation by oral transmission. Since the destruction of the Temple, the growth of the Oral Law, and the extension of its principles, mushroomed into a huge bulk. Individual teachers, jurists, and disciples resorted to jotting down various aspects of the Oral Law as aids to memory. From such beginnings as these arose the vast literature of the Talmud.” (Understanding the Talmud, p. 8)

Moses Mielziner writes: “Finally R. Jehuda Hanasi, flourishing towards the end of the second century, undertook the great task of establishing a general code of the oral law. By virtue of his eminent learning, his dignity as Patriarch and as head ofa celebrated academy, he succeeded in accomplishing this task. Taking the unfinished work of R. Akiba and R. Meir as basis, and retaining, in general, its division and arrangement, he examined and sifted the whole material of the oral law, and completed it by adding the decisions which his academy gave concerning many doubtful cases. Unanimously adopted opinions he recorded without the names of their authors or transmitters, but where a divergence of opinions appeared, the individual opinion is given in the name of its author, together with the decision of the prevailing majority, or side by side with that of its opponent, and sometimes even with the addition of short arguments pro and con.” (Introduction to the Talmud, p. 5)

Hermann L. Strack writes: “Mishna signifies specifically: (1) the entire content of the traditional law as far as it had been developed by the end of the second post-Christian century; (2) the sum of the teachings of any one of the teachers active up to that date (Tannaim); (3) a single statement of law, in which sense the term halakah was also employed; (4) any collection of such statements, as when reference is made to the ‘Mishnayoth Gedoloth, the great Mishna collections, e.g. the Mishna of Hiyya, of Hoshaiah, of Bar Kappara; (5) par excellence by Mishna is meant the collection made by the Judah ha-Nasi (‘Rabbi’) which, however, in the form in which it has come down to us, contains many additions and modifications.” (Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash, p. 3)

Continued here:
Talmud – Early Jewish Writings