Essay on Significance of Talmud in Judaism

What is the Talmud and how does it relate to the Torah; what is its significance towards Judaism?

The word “Talmud” is translated from Hebrew as a “study”. It is the oral higher law in the Judaism that consists of several volumes. The origin of that religious literature dates back to the 2nd century B.C-6th century A.D. Talmud consists of two books: Mishnah and Gemara; the first one was written 300 years before the second one and both books have lots of authors and represent a code of laws given to the Jews. Mishnah is a set of court decisions that has been gathered during four hundred years. The Oral teaching that Moses grasped on Mount Sinai underlies this teaching. Mishnah was written down by Rabbi Judah Hanasi the famous Palestinian sage and lawmaker. The today’s Hebrew is the language of Mishnah. Along with the fact that it is a juridical treatise, it is a very precious historical source of those times’ life.

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Every few lines of Mishnah in which the main essence of the law is stated are followed by a page or even several pages of comments, scrupulous jurisprudential analyses; sometimes these analyses develop into parables, poems, prayers, historical references, scientific discourses and table jokes. This is Gemara which means “conclusion” and represents the discussion of the Mishnah and Tannaitic writings and serves as the basis for all rabbinic law codes. As it was mentioned above Talmud is an oral law, whereas Torah is a written law. The word “Torah” from Hebrew means “law, teaching”.  In Judaism this word was firstly used for a separate divine direction, commandment. Then it was mentioned as a set of commandments concerning one object or event. Though the word “Torah” is used not only for the Five Books of Moses, but also refers to Talmud, Prophets, Midrash and Holy Talmud.

Writings, in general this term is applied to the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Therefore Torah is God’s instructions given to Jewish people to be incarnated in their day-by-day lives. It represents the basic tenets of the Jewish faith. The main idea of this teaching lies in the fact that it is a sacred scripture and is aimed to bring holly teaching to life.

The Torah forms the basis of the Judaism and serves as a key for the Jewish survival. This is a very important thing in the individual life of every Jew. It is like a moral guide in the religious life of this people that makes its role very important and puts the Torah in the centre of the religious teaching. The fact of its value is proved by lots of examples when people were even willing to sacrifice their lives in order not to break the commandments stated in this teaching. It should be mentioned that Torah was not only addressed to one nation but to the entire world. According to the Rabbi Yochanan Torah represents the document of the universal significance and the heritage of all people.

In conclusion it should be said that Talmud and Torah  have reached the supremacy and authority becoming the main source of the Jewish law and God’s teaching as well as a the most important matter of study and respect for the further history of Judaism. Such peculiarity of Talmud as the openness for new debates and discussions made the development of the Judaism interpretation possible for every new generation. The Rabbis’ skill to adapt the legislation and idea of Talmud to the following conditions became their genius achievement. The Rabbis who have been studying and teaching Torah provided its perpetual life. This imperishable heritage of the Jewish people will always be an important religious source.

Works cited
Rabbi Yaakov Menken. “The Eveyrything Torah Book”. Baltimore press. 2002.
Ziberman, Abraham. The encyclopedia of Judaism.Tel Aviv. 1999.

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