We are looking at the sacred texts and books of the Jewish people, next up is the Talmud. The Talmud fascinates me and countless other Jews and gentiles alike. So what exactly is the Talmud?
Per Wikipedia: The Talmud (Hebrew: talmu-d "instruction, learning", from a root lmd "teach, study") is a central text of mainstream Judaism, in the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history.
The Talmud is sectioned into two parts: The mishnah which is the first comprehensive compendium of Jewish Oral Law. The second part of the Talmud is the Gemara which is a discussion of the Mishnah and related Tannaitic writings that often ventures onto other subjects and expounds broadly on the Tanakh.
The Tanakh is the Jewish Bible so the Mishnah expands upon Rabbinic rulings where it pertains to the Jewish Bible. The Talmud deals with matters of Jewish religious law.
There are two Talmuds. The Jerusalem Talmud and The Babylonian Talmud. The Jerusalem Talmud is also known as the Palestinian Talmud as it was a "compilation of teachings of the schools of Tiberias, Sepphoris and Caesarea. It is written largely in a western Aramaic dialect that differs from its Babylonian counterpart." (Source: Wikipedia)
The Babylonian Talmud was transmitted orally for centuries prior to its compilation by Jewish scholars in Babylon about the 5th century CE.
I think a couple of articles should be dedicated to discussing the two Talmuds. We also need to get more into the importance of the Talmud to the Jewish faith. Judaism has become a great intellectual tradition because of our rabbis discussing all aspects of Jewish life and law in books like the Talmud. Yet Judaism is a living, breathing faith because Jews still practice Judaism so this means our faith adapts to changing times to make our faith more applicable to life, yet remain within Jewish tradition.
For the next article we will discussion in greater detail the structure of the Talmud: Mishnah, Baraita, Gemara, Halakha and Aggadah