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What is the Talmud?

by Rabbi Yaakov Latowicz

  

Library » Torah » Mishnah and Talmud | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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summerset: Hi...What is the Talmud? As you can tell, I am not Jewish.

Rabbi Latowicz: Actually, there are many Jews who ask the same question! According to Judaism, the Bible was received from G-d with a commentary... this explanation of the Torah & its laws was preserved orally through the generations. Eventually it was recorded in summary form for the very first time in the 2nd century. This summary (the Mishnah) became a text for study for the Rabbis for Jewish law & tradition.

summerset: What exactly does this commentary cover?

Rabbi Latowicz: All of the 613 Commandments of the Bible, and every narrative. In Babylon this summary was discussed & expanded in the Great academies that flourished there in the 4th & 5th centuries. The record of all these studies is the Talmud.

summerset: Wow... Is this for Jews only, or is there a way that someone like myself would be able to read it?

Rabbi Latowicz: It was intended primarily for the Jews...today it is available in English translation...but it remains a text that must be studied with a teacher...as has been the case for over one thousand years-that is the system of Jewish learning.

summerset: Well, thanks...I greatly appreciate your time and knowledge.

Rabbi Latowicz: My pleasure! Please visit us again.


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Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Mishnah
First written rendition of the Oral Law which G-d spoke to Moses. Rabbi Judah the Prince compiled the Mishna in the 2nd century lest the Oral law be forgotten due to the hardships of the Jewish exiles.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.