Printing The Talmud | 01/01/2006
By: Gabriel Goldstein and Sharon Liberman Mintz
Since the early sixteenth century, Jews have studied from a printed Talmud with the text, in the original combination of Hebrew and Aramaic, in the middle of the page and the commentaries of Rashi and Tosafot lining the margins. As is well known, the printed edition does not contain either vocalization or punctuation. Despite the complicated nature of the Talmud and its difficult language, Jews did not compose any translations of the Talmud for centuries. Having frequently begun the study of Talmud in their youth, Jews were generally familiar with the language and therefore did not feel the need for such a study aid. In situations where the language or the contents proved very difficult, students of the text considered the vast literature of commentaries, especially those of Rashi and Tosafot, to be sufficient. Indeed, it was not until the nineteenth century that vernacular translations were composed by Jews. This article will discuss the major Jewish translations of the Talmud, particularly those that elicited controversy, and how these translations and the reactions to them have affected Talmud study to this very day.
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