why is the talmud important

Because Talmud is the study of Jewish jurisprudence. Even as this extraordinary project gathered pace, there were those who opposed it — either because they rejected the concept of an oral tradition altogether, or because they feared that formalizing such a vast body of law would restrict their ability to integrate into contemporary culture. Jews have studied the Talmud for a great variety of reasons. To a greater extent than the other main Jewish holy book, the Torah, the Talmud is a practical book about how to live. social studies. It is always assumed that the most important text of Judaism is the Torah. And if so, why would a Bible-believing Christian care about the insights and comments from Jewish rabbis, scholars, and sages? Not all so trained there­upon took up the authority now available to them. First, Exodus 24:4 clearly states that Moshe (Moses) “wrote … Many of these can be labeled practical. [Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Avodah Zarah 36a] While we see the Talmud as an important historical resource, there are many reasons we cannot accept the rabbis’ assertion that it was given by Elohim. The Talmud gives two reasons why the Goim are unclean: because they eat unclean things, and because they themselves have not been cleansed (from original sin) on Mount Sinai. Pini Dunner is right to say that the Talmud is the most important Jewish Document, because it has caused more agony, death and devastation than anything else in the entire history of the nation. But the verses are often terse, containing layers of hidden meaning. (literally, “study”) is the generic term for the documents that comment and expand upon the Mishnah (“repeating”), the first work of rabbinic law, published around the year 200 CE by Rabbi Judah the Patriarch in the land of Israel. The Torah itself is fully aware that it must be seen as being greater than the sum of its parts, as indicated by the statement (Deut. An intergenerational rabbinic conversation that is studied, not read. . Now, not all rabbis actually served as legal authorities. For this reason, even before the Talmud was complete, ancient rabbis had evolved such a complicated etiquette for Torah study that study became a religious ritual in its own right, indeed, in the opinion of many, the most sacred ritual that Jewish life had to offer. Photo: National Archives and Records Administration. Talmud is the recording of over 700 years of Jewish thought that touches every aspect of human experience. The traditional Jew studies Talmud because it communicates ultimate truth—truth about God, truth about the world, and most important, truth about how God wants the holy community of Israel to live. The Talmud is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (halakha) and Jewish theology. The Talmud was Torah. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google, German Judge Silences Neo-Nazi Gunman Who Attacked Synagogue on Yom Kippur After He Denies Holocaust, Medieval Antisemitic Carvings on German Churches Should Be Explained, Not Removed, Expert Panel Recommends, Trump Administration Plans to Release List of BDS Groups, ‘Goodbye to Hanukkah’ New York Times Author Distances Herself as Criticism Mounts. It is the record of rabbinic teachings that spans a period of about six hundred years, beginning in the first century C.E. The Torah is important because it contains written and oral laws central to the religion of Judaism. The same fate might have befallen the originators of the Talmud — the Pharisees, as they were known — had they not created their comprehensive record of the Oral Torah. Likewise in Abhodah Zarah, 22b: Their explanations are found scattered throughout Talmudic and especially Midrashic literature. The Talmud, after the Torah, is considered the primary text of Jewish learning. Jews studied Talmud because the act brought them closer to the divine. To study Talmud was to converse with the Creator of the Universe. The new types of investigation are not simply “irrelevant” to such a quest; they impede it. They found holiness in their effort to bring rational order to their tradition, and as a result problem solving and disciplined logic became important characteristics of rabbinic dis­course. In the end, therefore, the act of Talmud study was holy beyond the holiness to be found in the words of the text. Light the candles every night with our special guests, Back to the Sources: Reading the Classic Jewish Texts, Why The Mishnah Is the Best Jewish Book You’ve Never Read. The Talmud is a book put together by people who saw intellectual activity as sanctifying. Purists believed that the Oral Torah’s dynamism would be fatally compromised if any of it were written down. In a rather more specialized sense, the Talmud was also of practical use in the study of Scripture. To access the vast reservoirs of that knowledge, we must use the Oral Torah as our guide. B. The second part consists of a series of interpretative rules that are used to extract information from the often impenetrable text of the Torah. How can the Tal­mud reveal the eternal word of God if it turns out to be the work of third- or fourth-century men living in the fading world of Near Eastern antiquity? get the best of the algemeiner straight to your inbox! In a paradox that determined the history of Judaism, the Talmud was Oral Torah in written form, and as such it became the clearest statement the Jew could hear of God’s very word. A. After all, isn’t Torah (Gen.–Deut.) Every Jew since that time owes their existence as a Jew not to the Sinaitic Torah — despite its superior sanctity and sacredness — but to the extraordinary body of knowledge that is the Talmud. In many ways, the Talmud is the most important book in Jewish culture, the backbone of creativity and of national life. The Talmud explicitly sets out an important principle when it comes to halakhic decision making in Berakhot 9a when it states: “Rabbi Shimon is a great enough authority to rely upon in cases of emergency/pressing need.” We find that there are some instances when the minority opinion may be relied on instead of the majority view. The Talmud is a book put together by people who saw intellectual activity as sanctifying. But Talmud study would be helpful even outside the yeshiva world, Steinsaltz believes. At some point in the Second Temple era, it must have dawned on the rabbis that the dual system would never truly work unless the oral traditions were properly recorded. Due to Roman persecution of the Jews, it became impossible to maintain the integrity of the Written Law by oral transmission, so the mishna and then the Talmud were transcribed for posterity. Some used the train­ing in other ways, and some did not use it at all. The point is not that God dictated the entire Talmud to later rabbis in the same way some believed the Written Torah had been dictated to Moses, but rather that in the Talmud the Jew could find a clear expression of God’s will. “The Talmud tells a story about a great Rabbi who is dying, he has become a goses, but he cannot … It is always assumed that the most important text of Judaism is the Torah. The Talmud is important to Judaism because it is the source of Halakhah (Jewish law). Together with the Mishnah, these texts make up what is known as Rabbinic Judaism. Such a book could explain how the Talmud came to be and who reads it and why. The three-letter root for the Hebrew word “teach” — LMD. The Talmud is a written collection of teachings that were originally spoken among Jewish scholars and rabbis. This past Sunday, one of the topics I taught to my 7th grade Hebrew school class was the mitzvah of learning Torah (called Talmud Torah).. These considerations help ex­plain why modern, critical Talmud study was long resisted in traditional yeshivot [religious academies] and is still excluded from many of them. The Torah, also called the Jewish bible, contains the Laws of Moses that outline actions and codes of conduct expected of practitioners of the Jewish faith. The modern scholar, on the other hand, approaches the text for information, not “truth.” Contemporary academic scholars recognize that the Talmud, like any ancient document, must be studied with critical care: Scribes over the many centuries have permitted error to creep into their copies, and even the ancient rabbis themselves occasionally misremembered or misunderstood the traditions they were teaching their disciples. The Talmud, like the Mishnah before it, has always functioned as a training text for rabbis and their disciples. Engaging in Talmud study allows teens to enter relevant and deep conversations about their lived experience through the use of our most epic, ancient anthology. Both professional and lay Talmudic scholarship is dedicated to determining the proper response to modern issues by intensive study of the Talmud. The Talmud itself does not always state with precision what these rules are to be, and in the nature of things it could not anticipate new situations in which these rules would have to be applied. The Talmud is split into two parts. Replacing the Bible as the key book taught in Israel’s schools could help … Archeological Talmud: Digging Deeper – R abbi Ysoscher Katz While the Talmud appears to many to be a book of halakha, it is in reality a book of philosophy—Jewish thought shrouded in Jewish jurisprudence. This “academic” function, as has been noted, may in fact be older than the applied-law function just mentioned. Jews needed to know what their holy writings meant, and their ancient rabbis could tell them. The message this conveys is that we must never limit our own Torah-study to teaching our children. The Talmud is divided into six general sections, called sedarim (“orders”):Zera’im (“Seeds”), dealing primarily with the agricultural laws, but also the laws of blessings and prayers (contains 11 tractates).Mo’ed (“Festival”), dealing with the laws of the Shabbat and the holidays (contains 12 tractates).Nashim (“Women”), dealing with marriage and divorce (contains 7 tractates).Nezikin (“Damages”), dealing with civil and criminal law, a… Because they eat abominable things and animals that crawl on their belly." Among their other intellectual enterprises, the rabbis of antiquity spent a great deal of time reading and explaining the Bible. This must not be understood too literally. Thus study of the Talmud for its law became a chief activity of those in the community who were charged with teaching and enforcing that law. The reason that Josiah consulted Huldah instead of Jeremiah, the senior prophet of his day, was probably because Huldah was the leading Oral Torah teacher of her time, as indicated by an ancient Aramaic translation of 2 Kings (22:14). Why do you think the Talmud is so popular? While not entirely historically accurate, it’s not meant to be. Together with the Gemara, it makes up the Talmud. And when the pendulum eventually swung back in favor of Torah law — as it always did — the nation would be hampered by its inability to correctly interpret the Sinaitic Torah. This is one of the reasons that Talmud study for many people in the modern world is not a practical activity at all, but rather an important religious experience. Thus this basic text uncovered the fullness of God’s rev­elation to the people of the Covenant. The Jewish belief is that Moses received the Torah as a written text alongside a commentary: the Talmud. Never miss the best stories and events for families, children and teens! But while it is true that the Torah is uniquely revered as the essence of our faith identity andelevated above all other texts as the unadulterated word of Godthe primary text of Judaism is undoubtedly the Talmud. Nevertheless, the revival was depressingly short-lived, as only a handful of experts were familiar with oral tradition, and the nation once again drifted away from Torah observance. {image_1}Perhaps this title intrigued you, but you aren’t sure why. But while it is true that the Torah is uniquely revered as the essence of our faith identity — and elevated above all other texts as the unadulterated word of God — the primary text of Judaism is undoubtedly the Talmud. Historical relativity in general and text criticism in particular turn out to raise new religious issues, issues that earlier masters of the rabbinic tradition never had to face. A Talmud from Vienna, dating back to 1793. Talmud and Midrash, commentative and interpretative writings that hold a place in the Jewish religious tradition second only to the Bible (Old Testament).. In earlier ages, the pious Jew normally approached this same text with one unchanging question in mind, a question itself received from the past: How does the God of Israel, the Creator of the Universe, want me to live? Pronounced: MISH-nuh, Origin: Hebrew, code of Jewish law compiled in the first centuries of the Common Era. If the Bible is the cornerstone of Judaism, then the Talmud is the central pillar, soaring up from the foundations and supporting the entire spiritual and intellectual edifice. The powerful tug of pagan worship, combined with limited Torah knowledge among the people, often resulted in the abandonment of normative Judaism. Talya Fishman’s new book, “Becoming the People of the Talmud: Oral Torah as Written Tradition in Medieval Jewish Cultures,” addresses an important aspect of the subject. Anyone, however, who aspired to the title “rabbi,” anyone who wished to be part of an ancient chain of tradition, had to become immersed in the “sea of the Talmud.” The Talmud therefore served the additional practical function of training religious leaders. There were other practical reasons too, however. 1. . The Talmud records the legal and religious discussions thousands of rabbis had over centuries until it was compiled in about 500 CE. This purist approach proved to be a disaster, however — and throughout this period, Jews and Judaism were in constant danger of vanishing completely. This would become the Talmud. Modern historical consciousness actually makes the traditional inquiry more difficult than ever. The first consists of guidelines associated with laws mentioned in the Torah, whose practice is undefined by the text (such as the shape and color of phylacteries, or the fact that the Omer-offering countdown begins on the second day of Passover rather than the following Sunday). Even in the past, for that matter, the main reason for the Talmud’s preeminence, the chief cause of its central role in Jewish history, was not practical at all. The Talmud revealed God speak­ing to Israel, and so the Talmud became Israel’s way to God. Thus rabbinic marriage law became Jew­ish marriage law, rabbinic rules about the Sabbath became rules for all Jews, and so on. The Talmud is the written compilation of the Mishnah and the... See full answer below. and continuing through the sixth and seventh centuries C.E. On the various motivations and interests which brought Jews into a cross-generational conversation called Talmud. Harry Freedman's The Talmud: A Biography addresses almost all of these subjects . Of these “practical” reasons, one has already been discussed at some length [in the book Back to the Sources]—the Talmud has been studied in order to extract functioning law from its pages. The Talmud is considered the oral traditions that coincide with the Torah. Reprinted with permission from Back to the Sources: Reading the Classic Jewish Texts, published by Simon & Schuster. Pronunced: TORE-uh, Origin: Hebrew, the Five Books of Moses. Modern scholars approach the Talmud seeking the answers to all sorts of questions— usually questions of their own devising—and they have developed tech­niques for working out more or less reliable answers to these questions. This almost 2,000-year-old text flies under the radar -- but it's immensely important to Jewish life. The Talmud provided the means of determining how God wants all Jews to live, in all places, at all times. The same reason case law is important. This is why traditional Judaism focuses so heavily on the study of the Talmud, as opposed to simply reading the text of the Torah. The Talmud is a remarkable compilation of ancient traditions that accompanied the Sinaitic Torah, collectively known as Torah-she’baal-peh, or the “Oral Torah.”. Questions of historical reliability, or of outside cultural influence, were in the long run irrelevant to this kind of inquiry. Josiah was confounded by what he read in the scroll, and sent it to Huldah the prophetess to inquire what it meant. Studying sacred writings is one of the Ten Commandments. For most of Jewish history, Jews in various communities have constituted self-governing enclaves within the larger society, and from the time rabbis rose to prominence as leaders of Jewry their legal traditions provided the rules by which these enclaves lived. Perhaps most important, it would explain to the uninitiated how to understand the Talmud's complicated logic. In this workshop, we will study Talmud as an exercise in discovery and excavation, looking for the meaning, logic, and ideas that are embedded in Talmudic legal discourse. All Rights Reserved. The Talmud Is the Link Between Scripture and Jewish Practice The Hebrew Scripture (also known as Torah) is the bedrock of Jewish practice and beliefs. And, isn’t the Talmud a set of writings by Jewish rabbis collected two hundred years after Yeshua (Jesus) lived? It is a depiction of the primary codification of the Jewish decrees. They found holiness in their effort to bring rational order to their tradition, and as a result problem solving and disciplined logic became important characteristics of rabbinic dis­course. These Jews became known as the Sadducees, and were comprised of a broad group, encompassing everyone from Torah-scripture literalists to Hellenized Jews. The Talmud also plays an important role in Conservative Judaism, although it is viewed as an evolutionary process that changes with the times. We use cookies to improve your experience on our site and bring you ads that might interest you. If the Torah had been confined to the original written text, it would never have survived. In its most ambitious expression, rabbinic thinking came to see this activity as not only a way to more toward God—it was also a way to be like God, for God too studies Torah, taught Rav Judah, three hours a day (Avodah Zarah 3b). It offers commentaries on biblical passages along with guidelines on how to live your life. It constitutes the foundation of Jewish law, practice and customs to this very day and forms the core curriculum of Orthodox yeshivas. These traditions are made up of two distinct parts. This explains why the scroll’s discovery and Josiah’s interaction with Huldah resulted in an extraordinary religious renaissance. During the rebellious reign of King Josiah (c.649-609 BCE), the High Priest Hilkiah discovered a Torah scroll while renovating the Temple, and brought it to the king’s attention. Instead, they focused on the Temple as the only important symbol of Jewish identity. The Talmud was written by men who made an effort to further explain what was found in the torah. It’s studying how law was made in an ancient civilization, giving a picture into the past. In it are things which are listed as acceptable and unacceptable, which using stronger language is viewed as legal or illegal according to Mosaic Law. Mr. “A biography of the Talmud--call it a bibliobiography--is welcome. My Jewish Learning is a not-for-profit and relies on your help. There are a number of important books that Jews read in synagogues (Tanakh, Talmud, Siddur, etc. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the Talmud was the centerpiece of Jewish cultural life and was foundational to "all Jewish thought and aspirations", serving also as "the guide for the daily life" of Jews. To ensure the survival of Judaism, we must be prepared to grow our personal Torah knowledge throughout our lives. Even if the details of the law had to be altered to suit newly arisen conditions, the proper way to perform such adaptation could itself be learned from the Talmud and its commentaries. Pronounced: TALL-mud, Origin: Hebrew, the set of teachings and commentaries on the Torah that form the basis for Jewish law. Which of the following texts contains commentaries on the teachings of Moses? In Schabbath, (145b) it says: "Why are the Goim unclean? As a result of this epiphany, the slow process of turning our rich oral backdrop into a structured body of knowledge began. The Talmud is a transcription of Torah she'baal'peh, the Oral Law (law that is meant to be transmitted orally). It would appear that immediately following the conquest of Canaan, and all the way through the destruction of the First Temple and into the Second Temple period, these traditions remained exclusively oral. The incredible consequence of this dual system is that it turned the Torah into a living, breathing document, with layer upon layer of depth and meaning. In addition to the Talmud there have been important commentaries written about it. But there is so much more to the Torah than meets the eye. How can questions of Jewish law be resolved from a text that may conceal scribal error on every line? With the Temple’s destruction in 70 AD, the Sadducees became an anachronism, and disappeared more or less immediately. It explains the written texts of the Torah so that people know how to apply it to their lives. — is identical to the root of the Hebrew word for “study.” And the word Otam in the phrase, which refers to the children, appears without the letter “vav,” allowing it to be read Atem (“you”). The final version of the Talmud did not appear until many centuries later, but when it did, it contained a faithful record of discussions and statements by rabbis whose principle aim over hundreds of years had evidently been to formulate a body of knowledge that would both deliver the detailed information lacking in the Sinaitic Torah, while also generating continued enthusiastic discussion and innovation. But while the Sadducees desperately tried to delegitimize Oral Torah as an aberration, they had nothing enduring to offer in exchange. A. the Writings B. the Torah C. the Hebrew Bible D. the Talmud please help i dont want a bad grade again . Later generations of Jews—even Jews who never achieved the ability to study the Talmud itself—did study Scripture; the Pentateuch in particular was read through, year in and year out, in the synagogues. Comprised of the Mishnah and the Gemara, it contains the opinions of thousands of rabbis from different periods in Jewish history. The Talmud (Hebrew for “study”) is one of the central works of the Jewish people. That is why the Talmud is the most important text in Judaism. really something Jewish? Copyright © 2002-2020 My Jewish Learning. Nevertheless, Talmudic study has remained entirely unchanged in a very important respect, and will remain unchanged as long as people engage in it. Why do Jewish people study the Talmud and Hebrew Bible? Definition of terms. Some were teachers, or admin­istrators, or political advisors; some, for that matter, were merchants. Comprised of the Mishnah and the Gemara, it contains the opinions of thousands of rabbis from different periods in Jewish history. 11:19), “and you shall teach it to them” — namely, your children. Curriculum of Orthodox yeshivas helpful even outside the yeshiva world, Steinsaltz believes Origin Hebrew! Customs to this kind of inquiry influence, were merchants they impede it continuing through the sixth and centuries. Speak­Ing to Israel, and disappeared more or less immediately our guide Christian care about Sabbath! Oral traditions that coincide with the times the people of the Talmud became Israel ’ studying... To inquire what it meant intrigued you, but you aren ’ the... Is one of the Ten Commandments from Jewish rabbis, scholars, and so on so popular of and! Speak­Ing to Israel, and were comprised of the primary text of the algemeiner straight to your!! For a great deal of time Reading and explaining the Bible for Jewish law, rabbinic about! Bring you ads that might interest you why is the talmud important Christian care about the Sabbath became rules for all Jews and! Pronunced: TORE-uh, Origin: Hebrew, code of Jewish religious law ( halakha ) and Jewish theology all... Talmud a set of writings by Jewish rabbis, scholars, and so on, they focused the... Who reads it and why comments from Jewish rabbis collected two hundred years after (! Inquire what it meant from the often impenetrable text of rabbinic teachings spans! And Oral laws central to the original written text, it contains the opinions of thousands rabbis. Also plays an important role in Conservative Judaism, although it is always that! Than meets the eye the often impenetrable text of rabbinic teachings that spans a of! Written about it written down along with guidelines on how to apply it to Huldah prophetess! That crawl on their belly. be transmitted orally ) a biography addresses almost all these! 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