Jewish Texts

There are many various texts within the Jewish world. Jews have long been known as the “People of the Book” and this is a truthful statement. Judaism has long held its religious texts close to heart.

The Tanakh (mistakenly known as the “Old Testament”) is made up of the Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketuv’im. The Tanakh is the basis of understanding the laws, philosophy, and history of Judaism. As such, studying the Tanakh is the first step to understanding the whole of Judaism. The Tanakh is divided into three sections: Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketuv’im. READ MORE…

The Talmud (“instruction, learning”) is a central text of Rabbinic Judaism. It is also traditionally referred to as Shas, a Hebrew abbreviation of shisha sedarim, the “six orders”. The Talmud has two components. The first part is the Mishnah, the written compendium of Judaism’s “Oral Torah.” The second part is the Gemara, an elucidation of the Mishnah and related Tannaitic writings that often ventures onto other subjects and expounds broadly on the Tanakh. READ MORE…

The Mishneh Torah (“Repetition of the Torah”) subtitled Sefer Yad HaHazaka (“Book of the Strong Hand,”) is a code of Rabbinic halakhah (Jewish religious law) authored by Maimonides (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, also known as RaMBaM or “Rambam”), one of history’s foremost rabbis. The Mishneh Torah was compiled between 1170 and 1180, while Maimonides was living in Egypt, and is regarded as Maimonides’ magnum opus. READ MORE…

The Shulkhan Arukh, also known as the Code of Jewish Law, is the most authoritative legal code of Rabbinic Judaism. It was authored in Tzfat, Ottoman Eyalet of Damascus, by Yosef Karo in 1563 and published in Venice two years later. Together with its commentaries, it is the most widely accepted compilation of Jewish law ever written. The Shulkhan Arukh consists of four parts: Orach Chayim (“Way of Life”), Yoreh De’ah (“It Teaches Knowledge”), Even Ha-Ezer (“Stone of Help”), and Choshen Mishpat (“Breastplate of Judgment”). READ MORE…

The Midrash is the body of homiletic stories told by Jewish rabbinic sages to explain passages in the Tanakh. Midrash is a method of interpreting biblical stories that goes beyond simple distillation of religious, legal, or moral teachings. It fills in gaps left in the biblical narrative regarding events and personalities that are only hinted at. The purpose of midrash was to resolve problems in the interpretation of difficult passages of the text of the Hebrew Bible, using Rabbinic principles of hermeneutics and philology to align them with the religious and ethical values of religious teachers. READ MORE…

The Adderet Eliyahu is written clearly and well-organized exposition of the legal positions and practical consequences of Karaite halakhah.  This work is often misunderstood as an attempt to bend Karaite halakhah to be more consistent with Rabbinic halakhah. However, Rav Bashyatzi’s work is strictly within the halakhich framework of Karaite Judaism. READ MORE…