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soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Torah and Halachic Authority (3/12)
Section - Question 3.17: What is Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud)?

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                                  Answer:
   
   The Talmud Bavli (BT) is the Mishna plus the Babylonian gemara. It is
   much more complete than the Talmud Yerushalmi (JT), and the redaction
   is much more careful and precise. Still, it is by no means complete.
   The gemara only exists for 37 out of the 63 tractates of the Mishna.
   Why did these tractates remain without gemara in the BT? The
   traditional answer is that the laws of Zeraim and Toharot (except
   Niddah) had no practical relevance:
     * The agricultural laws were tied only to the land of Israel. In the
       diaspora these laws simply were of no use.
     * The purity laws (except for family purity) were no longer
       applicable, because there was no longer a Temple and sacrificial
       system.
       
   One might think then that there would be no BT gemara on Qodashim...
   but there is. This is probably because the study of the sacrificial
   regulations is generally thought of as being on par with actually
   performing sacrifices.
   
   In the usual printed editions, the BT comprises the full Mishna, the
   37 gemaras, and the extra-canonical (minor) tractates. Typically, this
   comprises 5,894 pages, and is much more extensive than the JT.
   
   The overall character of BT is encyclopedic. Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
   states in The Essential Talmud (Basic Books, Inc., New York, 1976):
   
     The Talmud is the repository of thousands of years of Jewish
     wisdom. And the Oral Law, which is as ancient and significant as
     the Written Law (Torah), finds expression therein. It is a
     conglomerate of law, legend, and philosophy, a blend of unique
     logic and shrewd pragmatism, of history and science, anecdote and
     humor.

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Top Document: soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Torah and Halachic Authority (3/12)
Previous Document: Question 3.16: What is Talmud Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Talmud)?
Next Document: Question 3.18: What is Rashi's Commentary on the Talmud?

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