Besides Tanach, the Jewish Bible, no work in Jewish literature has shaped Jewish thought, practice and history more than the Talmud. Its legal decisions are the principle source of the Shulchan Aruch - The Code of Jewish Law - the legal foundation of Jewish life. The philosophical and moral sections of the Talmud - the Agadata - forms the basis of the various schools of Jewish philosophy as well much of the commentary ever written on the Torah. Besides being the major source of Jewish practice and thought, its pages contain a virtual encyclopedia of knowledge covering subjects as diverse as astronomy, medicine, history, and the occult.
But more than anything else, the Talmud represents the logical system of analysis that Jews have employed from time immemorial to plumb the depths of the most difficult and awesome of all subjects - The Torah. And like the Talmud itself, a true Talmudic scholar, a devoted student of this awesome work, is a synthesis of a vast reservoir of legal, spiritual and general knowledge who actively probes, questions and analyzes. Not merely a brilliant thinker and logician but he is someone who has integrated the vast knowledge and spirituality of the written and oral tradition of the Torah into his very essence. To understand the Talmud is to understand the very soul of the Jewish people and its leaders. The lectures in this series were designed to impart a sense of the spirituality, dedication, and wisdom of many of the major Masters of the Talmud, and to acquaint the listener with much of the personal history of these men, their Yeshivas, the environment in which they studied and taught, and the institutions that formed the fabric of their social and religious culture.
This lecture is devoted to tracing the history of the text of the Talmud. How was Talmud studied in Biblical times? How was it standardized and who finally wrote it down? It goes without saying that to really and truly appreciate the Talmud, one must be a dedicated and devoted student. Although not a substitute for serious study, this lecture along with the other lectures in this series, will hopefully give one a greater appreciation of the Talmud's history and structure and create a logical and coherent framework which will hopefully form a solid base for further studies.
This lecture is dedicated to the memory of and li’ilui nishmas: חוה בת ר' יואל זוסמן Mrs Evelyn Framer of blessed memory.
Click the Play button for an excerpt of this lecture
Click Here for a preview of the included handout (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)