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The Essential Talmud I was frustrated in reading this, in part because I wasn t sure who the audience was The book gives a rough overview of the history of the compilation of the Talmud, its contents, and its internal logic, but there are massive gaps in each of these and problems with the book s overall organization that make it a very flawed introduction from any standpoint The history of compilation doesn t mention, for example, any clear historical context for the first group of sages, and while Steinsaltz s I was frustrated in reading this, in part because I wasn t sure who the audience was The book gives a rough overview of the history of the compilation of the Talmud, its contents, and its internal logic, but there are massive gaps in each of these and problems with the book s overall organization that make it a very flawed introduction from any standpoint The history of compilation doesn t mention, for example, any clear historical context for the first group of sages, and while Steinsaltz says later in the text that up to a certain point, older scholars take precedence and after that point,recent scholars areauthoritative, he doesn t actually tell you who belongs in which category or where the demarcation point is The combination makes the book problematic either for academics studying Jewish culture or for novice Talmud scholars trying to interpret Jewish law Words like Midrash, which are fairly common, are translated, but Aggadah is used throughout and even gets a chapter to itself without a real definition or enough examples to give the reader a rough estimate of its meaning.There were some bright points the history of printing and censorship of the Talmud had lively, clear examples and historical context But overall, this didn t feel like a standalone introduction, or even a compiled series of lectures, it felt like a love letter to the text written by someone who can t remember a time when he didn t know it inside and out A fairly useful introduction to the Talmud, but somewhat flawed in organization The chapters dealing with the history of the text are somewhat confusing, with a tendency to bounce back and forth chronologically when dealing with parallel developments in the Palestinian and Babylonian academies Once the book begins to talk about the organization and content of the Talmud, it gets better A few of the chapters dealing with laws relating to the Sabbath, liturgy and festival days will seem rather A fairly useful introduction to the Talmud, but somewhat flawed in organization The chapters dealing with the history of the text are somewhat confusing, with a tendency to bounce back and forth chronologically when dealing with parallel developments in the Palestinian and Babylonian academies Once the book begins to talk about the organization and content of the Talmud, it gets better A few of the chapters dealing with laws relating to the Sabbath, liturgy and festival days will seem rather basic to anyone who s been through an Introduction to Judaism class, but that may have to do with Steinsaltz s intended audience At any rate, this book should provide an excellent grounding in the history, structure and purpose of the Talmud 4.5Great book to give the historical background and context for the Talmud Some ideas were completely new to me, though they become obvious once you think about it For example, the idea that the Talmud is not really a book of law, but rather a book of truth or a slice of life of the sages and what they spoke about taught which happens to include legal discussions they had, and law classes they taught.The reason I would not give this a full five stars is because the author sometimes speaks 4.5Great book to give the historical background and context for the Talmud Some ideas were completely new to me, though they become obvious once you think about it For example, the idea that the Talmud is not really a book of law, but rather a book of truth or a slice of life of the sages and what they spoke about taught which happens to include legal discussions they had, and law classes they taught.The reason I would not give this a full five stars is because the author sometimes speaks in vague ambiguous language, rather than in concrete terms Perhaps this is because he wants his controversial statements to be less controversial this book can be enjoyed by Reform and Orthodox Jews alike Also, the author does not use enough examples to demonstrate his points, nor does he cite anything he says Some of the ideas were revolutionary, and I would have really appreciate citations Perhaps this is so the book can appeal to Orthodox people who would otherwise be scared off if they realized R Steinzaltz was using modern academic scholars as opposed to his vast knowledge of Rabbinic sources as the basis for some of his points Also, the writing style is sometimes weird almost stream of consciousness and I wonder whether this is the fault of the author or the translator.Having said that, it s an amazing book, easy to read, and I thought it was useful and important This book was a solid intro to the structure and thought process of the Talmud I started reading this because I ve started doing Daf Yomi, reading a page of Talmud a day, and this has been a good jump start in understanding what I m reading A lot of the really good stuff is the contextual information about the Talmud While the tractates themselves are fairly straightforward as to their content, The Essential Talmud gives a great historical and religious context for what the Talmud is, whe This book was a solid intro to the structure and thought process of the Talmud I started reading this because I ve started doing Daf Yomi, reading a page of Talmud a day, and this has been a good jump start in understanding what I m reading A lot of the really good stuff is the contextual information about the Talmud While the tractates themselves are fairly straightforward as to their content, The Essential Talmud gives a great historical and religious context for what the Talmud is, where it came from, and why it s important.A note on the author and his style Steinsaltz is considered one of the absolute great modern Talmud scholars, and is definitely a religious figure Thus, there is inevitably a religious view on the Talmud within the book However, the book is about as objective as you could hope, given that it is a religious text While the author makes assumptions at times, and certainly shows a reverent awe for the Talmud, he also is candid about the historical context and the authors.A few relatively minor complaints Steinsaltz could have providedexamples He often describe parts of the Talmud, for example how the Sages would tell stories, without providing examples Similarly, the book could use some deeper explanations such as on the logical techniques of the Gemara This is an informative introduction overview of the Talmud. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here This book will not teach you the Talmud, it will prepare you to understand and to learn from the Talmud This book is a detailed description of the history of the Talmud, how it came to be, it s role, and it s various parts It is a lengthy but valuable introduction to the Talmud for anyone wishing to begin studying it or to take a new look with open eyes and a thirst for the wisdom within. A great book about our history and who we are. A Masterful Introduction To The To The Great Repository Of Jewish Wisdom, The TalmudIn The Essential Talmud, The Renowned Israeli Scholar And Teacher Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Succinctly Describes The History, Structure, And Methodology Of The Sacred Text By Which The Jewish People Have Lived And Survived Through The Ages Rabbi Steinsaltz Summarizes The Talmud S Main Principles, Demonstrates Its Contemporary Relevance, And Captures The Spirit Of This Unique And Paradoxical Text As A Human Expression Of Divine Law This Expanded Edition Features A Historical Overview Of Life In The Times Of The Talmud And An In Depth Look At The Content And Appearance Of The Original Talmudic Page As Rabbi Solomon S Bernards Of The B Nai B Rith Anti Defamation League Puts It, This Book Is Indispensable To Those, Jews And Christians Alike, Who Would Like To Gain An Insight Into What It Is That Moves The Contemporary Jew Let me start with the bad, of which there s little One flaw I spotted was that at times namely the historical section used certain terms without clarifying their meaning the terms for various generations of sages come to mind , seeming to assume the reader already knew what they meant For my part this wasn t a problem as I did know their meaning, but I can see it being confusing the uninitiated Additionally, I noticed Steinsaltz didn t cite sources, which is sensible for the sections on th Let me start with the bad, of which there s little One flaw I spotted was that at times namely the historical section used certain terms without clarifying their meaning the terms for various generations of sages come to mind , seeming to assume the reader already knew what they meant For my part this wasn t a problem as I did know their meaning, but I can see it being confusing the uninitiated Additionally, I noticed Steinsaltz didn t cite sources, which is sensible for the sections on the structure of the Talmud and its methods, but is a bit odd in the historical section as well.All that said, this book is amazing It provides a comprehensive overview of everything you could want to know about the Talmud, whether it s to start studying it, or simply to understand The reader will come to understand the history of the Talmud, and the why and how behind its inception The reader will understand something of its general contents, and the general layout of the Vilna page And you also come to understand the methods behind its creation, the subculture behind it that leads to it, in some ways, still being developed today This book is not only a great introduction to the Talmud, but to aspects of Jewish culture we may well take for granted This book is a well written, well researched biography of the Talmud It contains an abundance of historical material, but a dearth of halakhic summary While I understand that the history of Jewish politics, persecution, self governance, and rabbinical development are, to a degree, key to understanding the Talmud s organization and methodology, I probably could have gone without knowing the lineage of every exilarch and Nasi Likewise, given the sheer amount of time devoted to historical minu This book is a well written, well researched biography of the Talmud It contains an abundance of historical material, but a dearth of halakhic summary While I understand that the history of Jewish politics, persecution, self governance, and rabbinical development are, to a degree, key to understanding the Talmud s organization and methodology, I probably could have gone without knowing the lineage of every exilarch and Nasi Likewise, given the sheer amount of time devoted to historical minutiae, as well as the fact that the Talmud spans 43 volumes in the Steinsaltz translation , I was disappointed by the book s relatively sparse material on Jewish law, philosophy, and observance Ultimately, It was a good primer from a tremendous scholar, but it was also sort of a slog


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