Mishnah and Talmud

What is rabbinic literature? In short, it is the indigenous, orally transmitted culture of the Israelites – later, Jews – as it became taught and formalized after the canonization of the Hebrew Bible. The classic works of rabbinic literature are the Mishnah, Tosefta. the two Talmuds, and the Midrash collections.


What is the Mishnah? – The core of Judaism’s oral law, put into form around 215 to 250 CE.

The sages of the Mishnah – as a family tree

The oral law is what makes Judaism Jewish

Infographics to help in studying the Mishnah

Tosefta – A supplement to, and variant form of, the Mishnah. Edited after the time of the Mishnah, but before the two Talmuds.


What is the Talmud? – A multi-volume, encyclopedic record of the teachings of classical rabbinic scholars. It is written in the form of  commentary on the Mishnah, and contains teachings from 250 CE to 550 CE.

How do we begin study of the Talmud?

An example of using commentary to help explain the Talmud

The Steinsaltz Talmud – translation & commentary

Why Daf Yomi isn’t the best way to study Talmud


What is the Midrash? – Classical rabbinic homilies on the Bible. Several collections were edited between 200 and 800 CE.


Collectively, the sages in all these classical works of rabbinic Judaism are known as Chazal, חז״ל. This is an acronym for “Ḥakhameinu Zikhronam Liv’rakha” – חכמינו זכרונם לברכה – Our sages, may their memory be blessed.

For teachers

How does the Brisker style of learning Talmud differ from older styles?

The Brisker method – some objections

How do we teach rabbinic texts that challenge our sense of ethics? Teaching troubling texts.


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