Talmudic Works

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Talmudic Works


MISHNA


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ZERAIM - SEEDS

  • The first tractate (Masechta) of this order is "Berachot" - "blessings" - which teaches the laws of blessings, prayers and the synagogue service.
  • The other ten tractates discuss the agricultural laws that apply in the Land of Israel and also those that apply outside of Israel.


The Written Torah | The Oral Torah | Concepts in the Oral Tradition | Post-Talmudic Period | Talmudic Works
Mishna | Gemara: Talmud Yerushalmi; Talmud Bavli | Midrash | Zohar

MOED - TIMES

  • This order deals with the sanctity of time.
  • It contains twelve tractates that discuss the Sabbath, Festivals, the High Holidays, the calendar and the fast days.


The Written Torah | The Oral Torah | Concepts in the Oral Tradition | Post-Talmudic Period | Talmudic Works
Mishna | Gemara: Talmud Yerushalmi; Talmud Bavli | Midrash | Zohar

NASHIM - WOMEN

  • This order deals with the sanctity of the male-female relationship.
  • Its seven tractates discuss the laws of marriage and divorce, the marriage contract (Ketuva), incest and adultery, vows and their annulment, and levirate marriages (Yibum and Chalitza).


The Written Torah | The Oral Torah | Concepts in the Oral Tradition | Post-Talmudic Period | Talmudic Works
Mishna | Gemara: Talmud Yerushalmi; Talmud Bavli | Midrash | Zohar

NEZIKIM - DAMAGES

  • This order deals with the laws governing a persons possessions. Its nine tractates discuss:
  • Damages and torts; lost and abandoned objects; business ethics and laws of trade; property and inheritance; jurisprudence, government and the monarchy; laws of evidence, punishment and oaths; the prohibition of idol worship and relationships with pagans; and the laws of erroneous rulings by a court.


The Written Torah | The Oral Torah | Concepts in the Oral Tradition | Post-Talmudic Period | Talmudic Works
Mishna | Gemara: Talmud Yerushalmi; Talmud Bavli | Midrash | Zohar

KODSHIM - HOLINESS

  • This order deals with the laws of the sacrifices and offerings in the Temple; the laws of redemption of the firstborn; donations to the Temple treasury; and the laws of Kashrut, the Jewish dietary code.
  • Kodshim contains eleven tractates.


The Written Torah | The Oral Torah | Concepts in the Oral Tradition | Post-Talmudic Period | Talmudic Works
Mishna | Gemara: Talmud Yerushalmi; Talmud Bavli | Midrash | Zohar

TAHAROT - PURITY

  • Taharot deals with the laws of spiritual purity and impurity (Tumah vetaharah). Its twelve tractates discuss the laws of family purity; impurity caused by death and disease and the various methods of purifying people and objects.
  • The laws, structure and purpose of the Mikva are also detailed.


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Mishna | Gemara: Talmud Yerushalmi; Talmud Bavli | Midrash | Zohar

GEMARA - JERUSALEM TALMUD

  • The Jerusalem Talmud was redacted in the year 350 C.E. by Rav Muna and Rav Yossi in Israel. It contains explanations of the Mishna, legislation, customs, case histories and moral exhortations.
  • The Gemara is a synopsis of the discussions, questions and decisions of the Academies in Israel where the Mishna had been studied for almost 200 years.
  • Due to the location of the Academies, the agricultural laws of the Land of Israel are discussed in great detail.


The Written Torah | The Oral Torah | Concepts in the Oral Tradition | Post-Talmudic Period | Talmudic Works
Mishna | Gemara: Talmud Yerushalmi; Talmud Bavli | Midrash | Zohar

GEMARA - BABYLONIAN TALMUD

  • The Babylonian Talmud was redacted in the year 500 C.E. by Ravina and Rav Ashi, two leaders of the Babylonian Jewish community. The language of the Talmud is Aramaic, in Hebrew script.
  • It contains explanations of the Mishna, legislation, customs, case histories and moral exhortations.
  • The Gemara is a synopsis of the discussions, questions and decisions of the Babylonian Academies in which the Mishna was studied for more than 300 years.


The Written Torah | The Oral Torah | Concepts in the Oral Tradition | Post-Talmudic Period | Talmudic Works
Mishna | Gemara: Talmud Yerushalmi; Talmud Bavli | Midrash | Zohar

MIDRASH

  • The Midrash is a generic term for a group of apporxiamtely 60 collections of Rabbinic commentaries, stories, metaphors and ethical essays arranged around the books of the Torah, Prophets and Writings. It includes also various commentaries on the letters of the Hebrew alphabet as well.
  • Most of the Midrashim date back to the time of the Mishnah and many authors of the Midrash appear in the Mishnah and vice versa. Many of the central concepts and commentaries of the Midrash are part of the Oral tradition from Sinai.
  • The most famous collections of Midrashim are the Midrash Rabba, the Midrash Tanchuma, Yalkut Shimoni, Sifri, Sifra and Mechilta.
  • The Maharal of Prague writes, regarding the Midrashim of the Sages that "most of the words of the Sages were in the form of metaphor and the analogies of the wise... unless they state that a particular story is not a metaphor, it should be assumed that it is a metaphor. The matters of great depth were generally expressed by the Sages using metaphors, and should be understood as metaphors unless they are explicitly indicated to be taken literally. And therefore one should not be surprised to find matters in the words of the Sages that appear to be illogical and distant from the mind."
  • Rabbi Avraham, son of Maimonides in a famous essay on the Midrash categorizes the midrashim in the following way:

    The drashot of the Sages can be divided into five categories:

  1. A drasha meant to be understood according to its simple meaning
  2. A drasha that has both an external and superficial meaning as well as an internal, hidden meaning
  3. A drasha that has no hidden meaning, but whose simple meaning is complex and requires effort and information to understand fully
  4. Drashot that are used to explain a verse without claiming to represent the simple meaning of the words, rather one of many possible ideas that are expressed in the verse. Similar to poetic interpretations, and use of the verse to illustrate or teach a moral idea
  5. Drashot that use hyperbole and exaggeration to make a point
  6. There are four types of stories told by the Sages:

    1. A story from which it is possible to derive legal conclusions.
    2. A story from which can be derived a moral lesson.
    3. A story that teaches an idea in philosophy or in faith.
    4. A story that tells of a wondrous or miraculous event.

    These stories could be one of three types:

    1. A story that happened in a dream or in a prophetic vision, but that did not actually take place in the physical world.
    2. A story that actually happened but that is related in an exaggerated fashion to emphasis certain ideas.
    3. A story that actually happened, but that is related as a metaphor so that the way in which it is related and every word chosen is not chosen for the accuracy of the story, but to convey the essence of the metaphor.

    One should also be aware that a drasha may be a combination of any of these types of drashot or stories.


    The Written Torah | The Oral Torah | Concepts in the Oral Tradition | Post-Talmudic Period | Talmudic Works
    Mishna | Gemara: Talmud Yerushalmi; Talmud Bavli | Midrash | Zohar

    ZOHAR

    • The Zohar was written by the students of Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai, who transcribed his teachings in about 170 C.E. in Israel.
    • It discusses the concepts of Creation ex nihilo, Divine Providence and its mechanisms, the metaphysical meaning of the commandments of the Torah and the the connection between the physical and the spiritual.
    • Written in Aramaic, it follows the order of the Five Books of Moses. The Zohar is the principle source text of the Kabbalah, the Torah's mystical teachings.


    The Written Torah | The Oral Torah | Concepts in the Oral Tradition | Post-Talmudic Period | Talmudic Works
    Mishna | Gemara: Talmud Yerushalmi; Talmud Bavli | Midrash | Zohar

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