Hebrew Root

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Messianic Judaism 101 - Talmud



In addition to the written scriptures, in Judaism, there is the  "Oral Torah," a tradition explaining what the scriptures mean and how to interpret and apply them.. Orthodox Jews believe G-d taught the Oral Torah to Moses, and it was passed down to the present day. The Talmud was maintained in oral form only until about the 2d century C.E., when the oral law was compiled and written down in a document called the Mishnah.

Over the next few centuries, additional commentaries elaborating on the Mishnah were written down in Jerusalem and Babylon. These additional commentaries are known as the Gemara. The Gemara and the Mishnah together are known as the Talmud. This was completed in the 5th century C.E.

There are two Talmuds: the Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud. The Babylonian is more comprehensive, and is the one most people mean when they refer to The Talmud. There have been additional commentaries on the Talmud by such noted Jewish scholars as Rashi and Rambam. 

The Mishnah is divided into six sections called orders (sedarim). Each order contains one or more divisions called tractates (masekhtot). There are 63 tractates in the Mishnah. Approximately half of these have been addressed in the Talmud. Although these divisions seem to indicate subject matter  widely diverse subjects may be discussed in a order or tractates. Below is the division of the Mishnah into orders:

  • Zera'im (Seeds), dealing with agricultural laws
  • Mo'ed (Festival), dealing with shabbat and festivals
  • Nashim (Women), dealing with marriage, divorce and contracts
  • Nezikin (Damages), dealing with tort laws and other financial laws
  • Kodashim (Holy Things), dealing with sacrifices and the Temple
  • Toharot (Purities), dealing with laws of ritual purity and impurity


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