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Jerusalem Talmud

From Academic Kids

The Jerusalem Talmud (In Hebrew Talmud Yerushalmi, in short known as the Yerushalmi), also known as the Palestinian Talmud, was written in the Land of Israel at the same time of the writing of the Babylonian Talmud, (which is known as the Talmud Bavli or simply the Bavli in Hebrew), but was hasitily put together and was redacted about two hundred years before the Babylonian Talmud was.

The purpose of the Jerusalem Talmud was to elaborate on the Mishna, the written text of the Oral tradition (The Torah "lists the rules" while the oral law deals with application.), that had been redacted by Rabbi Judah haNasi in about 200 CE. Around this time many of the Jewish scholars living in Roman controlled Palestine moved to Persia due to the harsh decrees against Jews enacted by the emperor Hadrian after the Bar Kokhba's revolt. The remaining scholars who lived in the Galilee area decided to continue their teachings (At a time when learning Jewish texts or teaching them was forbidden) in the learning centers that had been around since Mishnaic times. The first people to do so were Rabbi Chanina and Rabbi Osheya who started the making of the Jerusalem Talmud in the Galilee. It is important to note as we see here that the Jerusalem Talmud was not made in Jerusalem! It was made in the Galilean area.

The Jerusalem Talmud was doing all right, it was at the same pace of the Babylonian Talmud which was started around the same time. It was still very hard to learn ad teach though. Roman authorities constantly were looking for ones who taught Jewish texts. The schools were the Jerusalem Talmud was being gathered had to be hidden. It wasn't going to get better though. In 313 with the Edict of Milan and Emperor Constantine endorsing Christiantiy things got worse. Decrees were encated against the Jews and there fellow Christians were retaining much power of the Galilean cities. The Byzantine Empire was much more harsh than the Roman Empire for Jews. Even with this the Byzantines Christians wanted and encouraged more Anti-Semitism. During the reign of Emperor Theodosius II the Jewish community was badly stricken. Theodosius was heavily influenced by his eldest sister Pulcheria who pushed him towards orthodox Christianity. Pulcheria was the primary driving power behind the emperor and many of her views became official policy. These included her anti-Semitic view which resulted in the destruction of synagogues and places of learning. After this the last great scholars of Palestine, Rav Mana and Rav Yosi redacted the Jerusalem Talmud in about the year 400. The Jerusalem Talmud didn't have the time spent by the countless editors and codifiers of the Babylonian Talmud. It didn't have the years of freedom that the Babylonain Talmud did. It is therefore very hard to understand do to the mostly non-flowing pages of the Jerusalem Talmud.

It is more abstruse in language and it differs from the Babylonian Talmud in language (being written in Western, rather than Eastern Aramaic), style, legal argumentation, and scope. It often appears as commentary on different parts of the Mishnah than does the Babylonian Talmud. It has a greater focus on the Land of Israel and the Torah's agricultural laws pertaining to the land because it was written in the Land of Israel were the laws applied. The Jerusalem is missing an order of the Babylonian Talmud, Kodshim, which involves sacrificial rites and the Temple, laws that wouldn't be needed then and were only put in the Babylonian Talmud due to the extra time an energy they had to devote to writing. The Jerusalem Talmud like the Babylonian has only one Tractate in the Order Tohorot, due to that order speaking about ritual purity, something that can only apply when the Temple is standing.

The Babylonian Talmud is traditionally studied more widely and has had greater influence on the halakhic tradition than the Jerusalem Talmud. A notable exception are the Romaniotes, who traditionally follow and learn the Jerusalem Talmud.

With the return of the Jews to the land of Israel in modern times, the Jerusalem Talmud has taken on greater relevance and popularity with Talmudical and rabbinical scholars and is being studied by increasing numbers of scholars within the world of Orthodox Judaism. With the finishing by Artscroll in translating the Babylonian Talmud into English on May 17, 2005, the company will begin to translate the Jerusalem Talmud into english. This will probably cause a great rise in the learning of the Jerusalem Talmud, probably more people learning then ever before.

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