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The Encyclopedia Talmudit (Hebrew: אנציקלופדיה תלמודית entsiyklopediah talmudiyt) is a Hebrew language encyclopedia that aims to summarize the halakhic topics of the Talmud in alphabetical order. It began in 1942 and is still an active project as of 2013, with 31 volumes published so far. An English translation, the Encyclopedia Talmudica began to be published in 1969.
Formation of the encyclopedia
The project began on the initiative of Rabbi Meir Bar-Ilan (Berlin) (1880–1949), the son of the Netziv. Bar-Ilan organized a group of notable editors. The purpose was to summarize all the Talmudic discussions and all the opinions of Rishonim and Acharonim in encyclopedia articles in alphabetical order.
The first edition of the first volume was published in 1947. This volume included 219 articles in an organized format of summaries. The same volume was reprinted three more times: in 1947, 1951, and 1955. After Bar-Ilan died in 1949, it was republished in a newly revised and expanded edition.
The worlds great Torah scholars, both Hasidim and Mitnagdim, blessed and supported the project. Supporters included Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv, Rabbi Yochanan Sofer, and others.
The administrator of the encyclopedia from its founding has been Rabbi Yehoshua Hutner(he) (1910–2009), who succeeded in securing the initiative with stable financial backing, thanks to his connections with leaders of the Mizrachi movement.
Past editors of the encyclopedia
The first editor-in-chief was Rabbi Shlomo Yosef Zevin (1886–1978). The first editors were Rabbi Benjamin Rabinovitz-Teomim, Rabbi Shimon Stralitz, Rabbi Yonah Martzebach and Rabbi Alter Hilevitz.
In later years tens of Torah scholars joined the editorial board, among them Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg, the author of Tzitz Eliezer; Rabbi Isaac Epstein, the judge in the Tel Aviv Beit Din; Rabbi Yehuda Gershoni; Rabbi Shmuel Kroyzer; Rabbi Refael Shmulevitz, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Mir yeshiva (Jerusalem); Rabbi Azriel Levi, the chief editor of the Oz VeHadar version of the Talmud; and others.
Rabbi Zevin's style was to abbreviate and summarize wherever possible. In the first two volumes he followed an extremely brief format under the influence of Rabbi Bar-Ilan, but in later volumes published after Rabbi Bar-Ilan died the volumes are more encompassing, and include not only the essence of the article but also many of its details and branched topics.
Rabbi Zevin established the listing of primary and secondary articles and the system of halakhic analysis of the encyclopedia. He edited the volumes that were published during his lifetime, and prepared other volumes until the end of letter Heth (ח).
The articles are organized in the following order: definition, sources, reasons and derivations, and various opinions. The first article was Aleph (א) and the last to date has been Kelayot. The extent of development in the articles has expanded over time.
In the first Volume of Encyclopedia Talmudit, in the articles titled אברים ב דף נד: there appears a discussion regarding the scientific validity of the Torah concept of 248 אברים in the human body. Quoted as one of the opinions, is that of Dr Katzenelsohn(he) in התלמוד וחכמת הרפואה which concludes with the phrase ובאחדים מהאברים דרך אחרת לו קצת ממפרשי המשנה. Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer found this paragraph inappropriate and sent a letter to Rabbi Meir Bar-Ilan requesting that it be removed. All subsequent editions have this section removed, and the footnotes rearranged to eliminate a trail. The letter of Rav Meltzer appears in his correspondence which was published by his grandson.
There are two volumes of indexes, including an index of topics and of citations from the Babylonian Talmud.
In recent years
The current editor-in-chief as of 2008 is Rabbi Zalman Nehemiah Goldberg.
- הפרדס, תשרי תש"ח, עמוד 9
- Encyclopedia Talmudit, vol 16, introduction
- In footnote 53 http://img.auctiva.com/imgdata/6/6/4/2/3/0/webimg/711919357_o.jpg?nc=939