Talmud Readers by Adolf Behrman
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The Jerusalem Talmud (Hebrew: תַּלְמוּד יְרוּשָׁלְמִי, Talmud Yerushalmi, often Yerushalmi for short), also known as the Palestinian Talmud or Talmuda de-Eretz Yisrael (Talmud of the Land of Israel), is a collection of Rabbinic notes on the second-century Jewish oral tradition known as the Mishnah. Naming this version of the Talmud after Palestine or Land of Israel rather than Jerusalem is considered more accurate by some because, while the work was certainly composed in "the West" (as seen from Babylonia), i.e. in the Holy Land, it mainly originates from the Galilee rather than from Jerusalem in Judea. The Jerusalem Talmud was compiled in the Land of Israel, then divided between the Byzantine provinces of Palaestina Prima and Palaestina Secunda, and was brought to an end sometime around 400. The Jerusalem Talmud predates its counterpart, the Babylonian Talmud (known in Hebrew as the Talmud Bavli), by about 200 years and is written in both Hebrew and Jewish Palestinian Aramaic.
The word Talmud itself is often defined as "instruction". Both versions of the Talmud comprise two parts, the Mishnah (of which there is only one version), which was finalized by Judah the Prince around the year 200 CE, and either the Babylonian or the Palestinian Gemara. The Gemara is what differentiates the Jerusalem Talmud from its Babylonian counterpart.
The Jerusalem Gemara contains the written discussions of generations of rabbis in the Land of Israel (primarily in the academies of Tiberias and Caesarea), compiled c. 350-400 CE into a series of books.
The Babylonian Gemara, which is the second recension of the Mishnah, was compiled by the scholars of Babylonia (primarily in the Talmudic academies of Sura and Pumbedita), and was completed c. 500. The Babylonian Talmud is often seen as more authoritative and is studied much more than the Jerusalem Talmud. In general, the terms "Gemara" or "Talmud," without further qualification, refer to the Babylonian recension.
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Following the redaction of the Mishnah, many Jewish scholars living in Roman-controlled Syria Palaestina moved to the Sasanian Empire to escape the harsh decrees against Jews enacted by the emperor Hadrian after the Bar Kokhba revolt. The remaining scholars who lived in the Galilee area decided to continue their teaching activity in the learning centers that had existed since Mishnaic times.
Place and date of composition
The Jerusalem Talmud probably originated in Tiberias in the School of Johanan bar Nappaha. It is a compilation of teachings of the schools of Tiberias, Sepphoris and Caesarea. It is written largely in Jewish Palestinian Aramaic, a Western Aramaic variety that differs from its Babylonian counterpart.
This Talmud is a synopsis of the analysis of the Mishnah that was developed over the course of nearly 200 years by the Talmudic Academies in Syria Palaestina (principally those of Tiberias and Caesarea). Because of their location, the sages of these Academies devoted considerable attention to analysis of the agricultural laws of the Land of Israel. Traditionally, the redaction of this Talmud was thought to have been brought to an abrupt end around 425, when Theodosius II suppressed the Nasi and put an end to the practice of semikhah (formal scholarly ordination). It was thought that the compilers of the Jerusalem Talmud lacked the time to produce a work of the quality they had intended, and that this is the reason why the Gemara do not comment upon the whole Mishnah.
In recent years scholars have come to doubt the causal link between the abolition of the Nasi and the seeming incompletion of the final redaction. However, as no evidence exists of Amoraim activity in Palestine after the 370s, it is still considered very likely that the final redaction of the Palestinian Talmud took place in the late fourth or early fifth century.
According to the Jewish Encyclopedia,
Yerushalmi has not been preserved in its entirety; large portions of it were entirely lost at an early date, while other parts exist only in fragments. The editio princeps (ed. Bomberg, Venice, 1523 et seq.), based on the Leiden manuscript and on which all later editions are based, terminates with the following remark: "Thus far we have found what is contained in this Talmud; and we have endeavored in vain to obtain the missing portions." Of the four manuscripts used for this first edition (comp. the note at the conclusion of Shab. xx. 17d and the passage just cited), only one is now in existence; it is preserved in the library of the University of Leyden (see below). Of the six orders of the Mishnah, the fifth, Ḳodashim, is missing entirely from the Palestinian Talmud, while the sixth, Ṭohorot, contains only the first three chapters of the treatise Niddah (iv. 48d-51b).
The Leiden Jerusalem Talmud (Or. 4720) is today the only extant complete manuscript of the Jerusalem Talmud. It was copied in 1289 by Rabbi Yechiel ben Yekutiel the Physician of Rome and shows elements of an earlier rendition. The additions which are added in the biblical glosses of the Leiden manuscript do not appear in extant fragments of the same Talmudic tractates found in Yemen, additions which are now incorporated in every printed edition of the Jerusalem Talmud.
The Leiden manuscript is important in that it preserves some earlier variants to textual readings, such as in Tractate Pesachim 10:3 (70a), which brings down the old Palestinian-Hebrew word for charoseth (the sweet relish eaten at Passover), viz. dūkeh (Hebrew: דוכה), instead of rūbeh/rabah (Hebrew: רובה), saying with a play on words: “The members of Isse's household would say in the name of Isse: Why is it called dūkeh? It is because she pounds [the spiced ingredients] with him.” The Hebrew word for "pound" is dakh (דך), which rules out the spelling of rabah (רבה), as found in the printed editions. Yemenite Jews still call it dūkeh. 
Comparison to Babylonian Talmud
There are significant differences between the two Talmud compilations. The language of the Jerusalem Talmud is Jewish Palestinian Aramaic, a Western Aramaic dialect which differs from that of the Babylonian. The Jerusalem Talmud is often fragmentary and difficult to read, even for experienced Talmudists. The redaction of the Babylonian Talmud, on the other hand, is more careful and precise. The traditional explanation for this difference was the idea that the redactors of the Jerusalem Talmud had to finish their work abruptly. A more probable explanation is the fact that the Babylonian Talmud wasn't redacted for at least another 200 years, in which a broad discursive framework was created. The law as laid down in the two compilations is basically similar, except in emphasis and in minor details. Some scholars, for example David Weiss Halivni, describe the longer discursive passages in the Babylonian Talmud as the "Stammaitic" layer of redaction, and believe that it was added later than the rest: if one were to remove the "Stammaitic" passages, the remaining text would be quite similar in character to the Jerusalem Talmud.
Neither the Jerusalem nor the Babylonian Talmud covers the entire Mishnah: for example, a Babylonian Gemara exists only for 37 out of the 63 tractates of the Mishnah. In particular:
- The Jerusalem Talmud covers all the tractates of Zeraim, while the Babylonian Talmud covers only tractate Berachot. The reason might be that most laws from the Orders Zeraim (agricultural laws limited to the land of Israel) had little practical relevance in Babylonia and were therefore not included. The Jerusalem Talmud has a greater focus on the Land of Israel and the Torah's agricultural laws pertaining to the land because it was written in the Land of Israel where the laws applied.
- The Jerusalem Talmud does not cover the Mishnaic order of Kodashim, which deals with sacrificial rites and laws pertaining to the Temple, while the Babylonian Talmud does cover it. It is not clear why this is, as the laws were not directly applicable in either country following the Temple's 70 CE destruction.
- In both Talmuds, only one tractate of Tohorot (ritual purity laws related to the Temple and sacrificial system) is examined, since the other tractates deal exclusively with Temple-related laws of ritual purity.
The Babylonian Talmud records the opinions of the rabbis of Israel as well as of those of Babylonia, while the Jerusalem Talmud seldom cites the Babylonian rabbis. The Babylonian version contains the opinions of more generations because of its later date of completion. For both these reasons it is regarded as a more comprehensive collection of the opinions available. On the other hand, because of the centuries of redaction between the composition of the Jerusalem and the Babylonian Talmud, the opinions of early amoraim might be closer to their original form in the Jerusalem Talmud.
The influence of the Babylonian Talmud has been far greater than that of the Jerusalem Talmud. In the main, this is because the influence and prestige of the Jewish community of Israel steadily declined in contrast with the Babylonian community in the years after the redaction of the Talmud and continuing until the Gaonic era. Furthermore, the editing of the Babylonian Talmud was superior to that of the Jerusalem version, making it more accessible and readily usable. Hai Gaon, on the preeminence of the Babylonian Talmud, has written:
Anything that has been decided halachically in our Talmud (i.e. the Babylonian Talmud), we do not rely on [any contradictory view found in] the Jerusalem Talmud, seeing that many years have passed since instruction coming from there (i.e. the Land of Israel) had ceased on account of persecution, whereas here (i.e. in Babylonia) is where the final decisions were clarified.
However, on the Jerusalem Talmud’s continued importance for the understanding of arcane matters, Rabbi Hai Gaon has also written:
Whatever we find in the Jerusalem Talmud and there is nothing that contradicts it in our own Talmud (i.e. the Babylonian Talmud), or which gives a nice explanation for its matters of discourse, we can hold-on to it and rely upon it, for it is not to be viewed as inferior to the commentaries of the rishonim (i.e. the early exponents of the Torah).
In addition, the Jerusalem Talmud remains an indispensable source of knowledge of the development of the Jewish Law in the Holy Land. It was also an important resource in the study of the Babylonian Talmud by the Kairouan school of Chananel ben Chushiel and Nissim ben Jacob, with the result that opinions ultimately based on the Jerusalem Talmud found their way into both the Tosafot and the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides.
The Babylonian Talmud has traditionally been studied more widely and has had greater influence on the halakhic tradition than the Jerusalem Talmud. However, some traditions associated with the Jerusalem Talmud are reflected in certain forms of the liturgy, particularly those of the Italian Jews and Romaniotes.
Following the formation of the modern state of Israel there was some interest in restoring the Palestinian Talmud's traditions. For example, David Bar-Hayim of the Makhon Shilo institute has issued a siddur reflecting the practices found in the Jerusalem Talmud and other sources.
Translations into English
- Talmud of the Land of Israel: A Preliminary Translation and Explanation Jacob Neusner, Tzvee Zahavy, others. University of Chicago Press. This translation uses a form-analytical presentation which makes the logical units of discourse easier to identify and follow.
- Schottenstein Edition of the Yerushalmi Talmud Mesorah/Artscroll. This translation is the counterpart to Mesorah/Artscroll's Schottenstein Edition of the Talmud (i.e. Babylonian Talmud). (n.b. currently incomplete – only some volumes available)
- The Jerusalem Talmud ed. Heinrich W. Guggenheimer, Walter de Gruyter (Publisher's Website). This edition, which is only partial, contains a bare translation with simple footnotes clarifying only the most problematic points.
Compared to the Babylonian Talmud, the Jerusalem Talmud has not received as much attention from commentators, and such traditional commentaries as exist are mostly concerned with proving that its teachings are identical to Bavli.
One of the first to make a commentary on the Jerusalem Talmud was Solomon Sirilio (1485–1554), whose commentaries cover only the Order known as Zeraim and the Sheqalim section of the Moed. Sirilio's commentary remained in manuscript form until 1875, when it was first printed in Mainz by Meir Lehmann. Today's modern printed editions almost all carry the commentaries, Korban ha-Eida, by David ben Naphtali Fränkel (c. 1704–1762) of Berlin, and Pnei Moshe, by Moses Margolies (c.1710?–1781) of Amsterdam.
A modern edition and commentary, known as Or Simchah, is currently being prepared in Beersheba; another edition in preparation, including paraphrases and explanatory notes in modern Hebrew, is Yedid Nefesh. The Jerusalem Talmud has also received some attention from Adin Steinsaltz, who plans a translation into modern Hebrew and accompanying explanation similar to his work on the Babylonian Talmud. So far only Tractates Pe'ah and Shekalim have appeared.
- Schiffman, Lawrence (1991). From Text to Tradition: A History of Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism. KTAV Publishing House, Inc. p. 227. ISBN 978-0-88125-372-6.
Although it is popularly known as the Jerusalem Talmud (Talmud Yerushalmi), a more accurate name for this text is either "Palestinian Talmud" or "Talmud of the Land of Israel." Indeed, for most of the amoraic age, under both Rome and Byzantium, Jews were prohibited from living in the holy city, and the centers of Jewish population had shifted northwards... The Palestinian Talmud emerged primarily from the activity of the sages of Tiberias and Sepphoris, with some input, perhaps entire tractates, from the sages of the "south" (Lydda, modern Lod) and the coastal plain, most notably Caesarea.
- "Talmud". Merriam-Webster. 2015. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
Origin of TALMUD Late Hebrew talmūdh, literally, instruction
- G. Stemberger, Einleitung in Talmud und Midrasch (München 1992), p. 172–5.
- C.E. Hayes, Between the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds, accounting for halakhic difference in selected sugyot from Tractate Avodah Zarah (New York 1997), p. 20–1.
- Yehuda Levi Nahum, Hasifat Genuzim Miteman (Revelation of Ancient Yemenite Treasures), Holon (Israel) 1971, pp. 19–29 (article: "Fragment of Mishnah and Jerusalem Talmud Shevi'it (chapter 7), by Prof. Zvi Meir Rabinowitz).
- Yehuda Ratzaby, Dictionary of the Hebrew Language used by Yemenite Jews (אוצר לשון הקדש שלבני תימן), Tel-Aviv 1978, s.v. דּוּכֵּהּ (p. 54).
- Steinsaltz, Adin (1976). The Essential Talmud. BasicBooks, A Division of HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-465-02063-1.
- Talmud Yerushalmi, vol. 1, B’rachot, Friedman’s Oz ve-Hadar edition, New-York 2010, Introduction, p. 17; Geonic Responsa from the Geniza (Simha Assaf), pp. 125–126. The original Hebrew and Aramaic: ומילתא דפסיקא בתלמוד דילנא לא סמכינן בה על תלמודא דבני ארץ ישראל הואיל ושנים רבות איפסיקא הוראה מתמן בשמאדא והכא הוא דאיתבררי מסקני
- Talmud Yerushalmi, vol. 1, B’rachot, Friedman’s Oz ve-Hadar edition, New-York 2010, Introduction, p. 19, who quotes from Sefer Ha-Eshkol of Abraham ben Isaac of Narbonne, vol. 2, Benjamin Hirsch (Zvi) Auerbach’s edition, Halberstadt 1868, s.v. Hilchos Sefer-Torah, p. 49 (Responsum of Rabbi Hai Gaon). The original Hebrew: כל מה שמצינו בתלמוד ארץ ישראל ואין חולק עליו בתלמודנו, או שנותן טעם יפה לדבריו נאחזנו ונסמוך עליו, דלא גרע מפירושי הראשונים
- Berakhoth Talmud Yerushalmi (ברכות תלמוד ירושלמי), with commentary by Solomon Sirilio, ed. Meir Lehmann, Mayence 1875.
- "Religion: Giving The Talmud to the Jews". Time. 1988-01-18. Retrieved 2010-05-06.
- Online Facsimile edition of the Leiden manuscript
- The Leiden manuscript of the Jerusalem Talmud (Brief Overview)
- Full Text of the Talmud Yerushalmi (Hebrew) Mechon-Mamre
- Full Text of the Talmud Yerushalmi (Hebrew) Snunit
- The Talmud Yerushalmi in 750 MP3s - from YerushalmiOnline.org
- The Palestinian Talmud, Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906
- Talmud/Mishna/Gemara, Jewish Virtual Library
- Jewish History: Talmud Aish.com
- Lost segment of Jerusalem Talmud unearthed in Geneva