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. 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. get the best of the algemeiner straight to your inbox! Josiah was confounded by what he read in the scroll, and sent it to Huldah the prophetess to inquire what it meant. This purist approach proved to be a disaster, however — and throughout this period, Jews and Judaism were in constant danger of vanishing completely. We use cookies to improve your experience on our site and bring you ads that might interest you. The powerful tug of pagan worship, combined with limited Torah knowledge among the people, often resulted in the abandonment of normative Judaism. But there is so much more to the Torah than meets the eye. 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.”. This past Sunday, one of the topics I taught to my 7th grade Hebrew school class was the mitzvah of learning Torah (called Talmud Torah).. “The Talmud tells a story about a great Rabbi who is dying, he has become a goses, but he cannot … 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. 1. 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. It is always assumed that the most important text of Judaism is the Torah. My Jewish Learning is a not-for-profit and relies on your help. 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. Why do you think the Talmud is so popular? The Jewish belief is that Moses received the Torah as a written text alongside a commentary: the Talmud. 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. With the Temple’s destruction in 70 AD, the Sadducees became an anachronism, and disappeared more or less immediately. Replacing the Bible as the key book taught in Israel’s schools could help … The modern scholar, on the other hand, approaches the text for information, not “truth.” Contemporary academic scholars recognize that the Talmud, like any ancient document, must be studied with critical care: Scribes over the many centuries have permitted error to creep into their copies, and even the ancient rabbis themselves occasionally misremembered or misunderstood the traditions they were teaching their disciples. It explains the written texts of the Torah so that people know how to apply it to their lives. really something Jewish? The Talmud, like the Mishnah before it, has always functioned as a training text for rabbis and their disciples. The Talmud was Torah. The same reason case law is important. These traditions are made up of two distinct parts. 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. Together with the Mishnah, these texts make up what is known as Rabbinic Judaism. 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. The Talmud also plays an important role in Conservative Judaism, although it is viewed as an evolutionary process that changes with the times. For this reason, even before the Talmud was complete, ancient rabbis had evolved such a complicated etiquette for Torah study that study became a religious ritual in its own right, indeed, in the opinion of many, the most sacred ritual that Jewish life had to offer. The new types of investigation are not simply “irrelevant” to such a quest; they impede it. The Talmud is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (halakha) and Jewish theology. Which of the following texts contains commentaries on the teachings of Moses? The Talmud is a book put together by people who saw intellectual activity as sanctifying. 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. Definition of terms. In the end, therefore, the act of Talmud study was holy beyond the holiness to be found in the words of the text. 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 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. Photo: National Archives and Records Administration. The Talmud revealed God speak­ing to Israel, and so the Talmud became Israel’s way to God. To study Talmud was to converse with the Creator of the Universe. On the various motivations and interests which brought Jews into a cross-generational conversation called Talmud. This is one of the reasons that Talmud study for many people in the modern world is not a practical activity at all, but rather an important religious experience. 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). 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. Thus rabbinic marriage law became Jew­ish marriage law, rabbinic rules about the Sabbath became rules for all Jews, and so on. Reprinted with permission from Back to the Sources: Reading the Classic Jewish Texts, published by Simon & Schuster. First, Exodus 24:4 clearly states that Moshe (Moses) “wrote … 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? 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. The Torah is important because it contains written and oral laws central to the religion of Judaism. “A biography of the Talmud--call it a bibliobiography--is welcome. The second part consists of a series of interpretative rules that are used to extract information from the often impenetrable text of the Torah. A Talmud from Vienna, dating back to 1793. The Talmud is a written collection of teachings that were originally spoken among Jewish scholars and rabbis. Comprised of the Mishnah and the Gemara, it contains the opinions of thousands of rabbis from different periods in Jewish history. The Talmud is considered the oral traditions that coincide with the Torah. This explains why the scroll’s discovery and Josiah’s interaction with Huldah resulted in an extraordinary religious renaissance. In many ways, the Talmud is the most important book in Jewish culture, the backbone of creativity and of national life. Because they eat abominable things and animals that crawl on their belly." {image_1}Perhaps this title intrigued you, but you aren’t sure why. 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. 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). and continuing through the sixth and seventh centuries C.E. 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. Pini Dunner is right to say that the Talmud is the most important Jewish Document, because it has caused more agony, death and devastation than anything else in the entire history of the nation. The Talmud is important to Judaism because it is the source of Halakhah (Jewish law). 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. There were other practical reasons too, however. 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