A Blueprint for Jewish Law

A passage in the Talmud’s first tractate shows why it’s such a uniquely influential work, and so unlike anything in the history of Western literature, theology, or legal scholarship.

Rabban Gamliel as depicted in the Sarajevo Haggadah, a fourteenth century illuminated manuscript. Wikipedia.

Rabban Gamliel as depicted in the Sarajevo Haggadah, a fourteenth century illuminated manuscript. Wikipedia.

Atar Hadari
Observation
March 25 2020
About the author

Atar Hadari’s Songs from Bialik: Selected Poems of H. N. Bialik (Syracuse University Press) was a finalist for the American Literary Translators’ Association Award. His Lives of the Dead: Poems of Hanoch Levin earned a PEN Translates award and was released in 2019 by Arc Publications. He was ordained by Rabbi Daniel Landes and is completing a PhD on William Tyndale’s translation of Deuteronomy.


On January 5, the seven-year cycle of Talmud study known as the daf yomi (“daily page”) began once more. Two months later, it still seems an apt moment to reflect on what the Talmud actually is and what sort of messages its compilers wished to convey. Part of what makes the Talmud such a unique work—and so unlike anything in the history of Western literature, theology, or legal scholarship—is that it intertwines discussions about law with stories about the people discussing it, their relationships with each other, and the human circumstances surrounding their discussions.

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More about: Daf Yomi, Religion & Holidays, Talmud