Bringing the Jerusalem Talmud to the Digital World

Jan. 21 2022

The Jerusalem Talmud, or as it known in Hebrew, Yerushalmi, is the compilation of some seven generations of rabbinic scholarship, roughly spanning the years 225 to 425 CE. It has long been sidelined by its more frequently studied successor, the Babylonian Talmud, or Bavli. Recently, the late Heinrich Guggenheimer’s English translation of this massive work was added to Sefaria’s online library of Jewish texts. To Zachary Rothblatt, this constitutes “a watershed moment in history”:

Now, Yerushalmi can and will have a place in the cultural conversation of the average [student]. While it remains a difficult text even in translation, its newfound accessibility is unprecedented. . . . Yerushalmi preserves hundreds of [rabbinic] traditions absent in Bavli. Bavli contains many more statements from the first four generations of Eretz Yisrael Amoraim, [that is, the sages active in Roman Palestine from circa 230 to 350 CE], but much less material from the fifth generation and onward.

The numerous traditions common to both Talmuds also present a rich opportunity for direct comparison. As [the medieval sage] Yom Tov ben Abraham Assevilli wrote, “We always rely on their Talmud (i.e., that of the scholars of the Yerushalmi) and interpret and codify our Talmud (the Bavli) based on their words.”

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Read more at Lehrhaus

More about: Talmud, Translation

Why the Leader of Hamas Went to Russia

Sept. 30 2022

Earlier this month, the Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh and several of his colleagues visited Moscow, where they met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials. According to Arabic-language media, Haniyeh came seeking “new ideas” about how to wage war against the Jewish state. The terrorist group has had good relations with the Kremlin for several years, and even maintains an office in Moscow. John Hardie and Ivana Stradner comment on the timing of the visit:

For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians and other issues to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and Israel built friendly relations in the decades following the Soviet Union’s dissolution. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Jerusalem condemned the war, but made sure to tread carefully in order to preserve working ties with Moscow, lest Russian military forces in Syria disrupt Israel’s strategically important air operations there.

Nevertheless, bilateral tensions spiked in April after Yair Lapid, then serving as Israel’s foreign minister, joined the chorus of voices worldwide accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Jerusalem later provided Kyiv with some non-lethal military aid and a field hospital. In response, Moscow hardened its rhetoric about Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian issue isn’t the only way that Russia has sought to pressure Israel. Moscow is also threatening, on seemingly spurious grounds, to shutter the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency.

Moscow likely has little appetite for outright conflict with Israel, particularly when the bulk of Russia’s military is floundering in Ukraine. But there are plenty of other ways that Russia, which maintains an active intelligence presence in the Jewish state, could damage Israel’s interests. As Moscow cozies up with Hamas, Iran, and other enemies of Israel, Jerusalem—and its American allies—would do well to keep a watchful eye.

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Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Russia