The Core Jewish Bookshelf
The core Jewish Bookshelf
Have you ever wondered what someone is referring to when they mention the Talmud, or Rashi, or the Shulchan Aruch? There are a number of books on the core Jewish bookshelf, and it's helpful to know a little bit about when they were written, and why they are important. Click below, or scroll down, for some more information.
- An "auto-anthropology" of Jewish life in the land of Israel during the second century CE
- Organized into six Orders (sidrei) which are then broken down into 63 volumes (masechtot)
- The orders are:
- Zeraim (Seeds) - agricultural laws and prayers.
- Moed (Festivals) - laws of the Sabbath and the Festivals.
- Nashim (Women) - laws of marriage and divorce.
- Nezikin (Damages) - civil and criminal law.
- Kodashim (Holy things) - sacrificial rites, the Temple, and the dietary laws.
- Tohorot (Purities) - laws of purity and impurity, including the impurity of the dead, the laws of "family purity" (the menstrual laws) and others.
- Record of tremendously discursive discussions about the Mishna.
- Makes extensive reference to the Tanakh, but is organized according to the Mishna.
- Only the center "column" of a traditional page of Talmud; the surrounding pieces of text are later commentaries.
- The "Talmud" refers to the Babylonian Talmud (Talmud Bavli) although there are actually two (semi-) independent Talmuds: The Babylonian and the Jerusalem. Each represents the discussions of later rabbis on the Mishna.
- Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzhak (1040-1105 / Troyes, France) draws on midrash (ancient commentaries/stories explaining the Torah) and Talmud in order to explain these core texts simply.
- Major work of the Rambam (Maimonides) who intended it to replace all previous law codes
- Arranged into 14 sections, it includes all, whether applicable to his time or not.
- Seminal work of Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah).
- Written by Moses de Leon in late 13th century Spain, but was attributed to Rabbi Shimeon bar Yochai, a second century sage.
- Written by R. Yosef Caro (1488-1575) who codified Sephardic custom.
- Printed with the commentary of R. Moses Isserles (1520-1572) who included Ashkenazic custom.
Only covers issues of practical importance and is organized into four main sections
- Orach Chayim (The Path of Life) - laws and liturgy of prayers and festivals.
- Yoreh De'ah (The Teaching of Knowledge) - ritual laws of everyday life.
- Even HaEzer (The Stone of Help) - laws of marriage and divorce.
- Choshen Mishpat (The Breastplate of Judgment) - civil law.