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Collected Essays: v. 1$
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Haym Soloveitchik

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113973

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113973.001.0001

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The Printed Page of the Talmud The Commentaries and their Authors

The Printed Page of the Talmud The Commentaries and their Authors

(p.3) Chapter One The Printed Page of the Talmud The Commentaries and their Authors
Collected Essays: v. 1

Haym Soloveitchik

Liverpool University Press

This chapter discusses the author's essay which was written for a volume accompanying an exhibition of the printed Talmud at the Yeshiva University Museum. The essay assesses why Rashi and Tosafot became so central to talmudic study and why their study became the core of the traditional Jewish canon. Rashi's commentaries on the Talmud democratized talmudic scholarship. Prior to his work, the only way to master a tractate was to travel to a talmudic academy and study at the feet of a master. With the appearance of Rashi's work, anyone, regardless of means, could by dint of talent and effort master any talmudic topic, and could do so with far greater precision than had previously been possible. Ultimately, the lifelong study of Talmud, the constant conquest of new tractates, and the unlimited personal acquisition of knowledge were in many ways the consequence of Rashi's inimitable work of exposition. The essay then looks at the emergence of the subsequent genre of talmudic commentary, the Tosafot, or “additions” to Rashi that are printed alongside his commentary. The Tosafists undertook, on each and every topic, to collate all the discussions of a given issue in the entire Talmud, note any contradictions between the different passages, and resolve them by distinguishing between the cases under discussion.

Keywords:   Talmud, Rashi, Tosafot, talmudic study, traditional Jewish canon, talmudic scholarship, talmudic commentary, Tosafists

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