Advanced Talmud

Advanced Talmud – RAB 530 – Fall, 2017

Rabbi Dr. Tzvee Zahavy

Goals: In this first trimester of the third year of Talmud study, the goals are for students to demonstrate:

  1. Skills in decoding the forms and logic of Talmudic discourse

    1. facility in the text, commentaries and reference resources

    2. ability to identify the structure and history of each sugya based upon modern critical methodologies of Talmud study

    3. ability to recognize citations of Tanakh, Mishnah, Tosefta and Beraita texts and the strata of Talmud texts

    4. fluency to identify and discuss the unfolding of rabbinic law, and philosophy

  2. Understanding of the halakhic and theological approaches to chapter four of Bavli Hullin (68A-78A), the sugya of ben pekuah – the live birth from a slaughtered animal – as it relates to the Talmudic notions of kashrut in the dietary laws. As the course progresses, related texts from Hullin will be added depending on the levels of the students.

  3. Facility in selected commentaries to the texts and in the development of ideas regarding the kosher animal in later legal codes

  4. Completion of a significant portion of the chapter of Talmud in the first trimester of the sequence

  5. Familiarity with the structure and contents of the entire tractate Hullin in Mishnah, Tosefta and Talmud (outlines to be provided).

  6. The ability to identify all pertinent elements of Talmudic Aramaic grammar and the special idioms of complex Talmudic sugyot

Required books:

1. Steinsaltz Talmud, Hullin. This is the all-Hebrew edition of the Steinsaltz Talmud. We will use the original edition, in which Steinsaltz re-set the entire Talmud in a different form from the traditional Vilna-Romm edition.

2. Marcus Jastrow, A Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Bavli, Talmud Yerushalmi and Midrashic Literature. This book is available in standard, hard-copy form. It is also available, in its entirety, available for free on the web.

3. Talmud study aids inclusive of formulaic idioms pertaining to the texts under analysis (copies to be supplied by instructor)

Recommended books and articles:

  • Adin Steinsaltz, The Talmud: A Reference Guide.

  • Yitzhak Frank, The Practical Talmud Dictionary.

  • Moses Mielziner, Introduction to the Talmud, 1894, 1925, 1968.

  • Abraham Goldberg's chapter "The Babylonian Talmud" in The Literature of the Sages, vol. 1, ed. by Shmuel Safrai, 1987.

  • Jacob Neusner, Introduction to Rabbinic Literature

  • Other items to be added as time permits


  • Students are required to bring the Steinsaltz Hebrew edition of Tractate Hullin to each session. It is recommended that students bring to each class session a Hebrew/English Tanakh.

  • Students are required to prepare all talmudic texts assigned in each class session, along with written assignments associated with that preparation.

  • Students are required to prepare the secondary readings and the written assignments associated with them.

  • Students will use the Hebrew translation and commentary of the Steinsaltz edition of the Talmud, along with vocabulary lists from the instructor, dictionaries and other secondary books as necessary, to help prepare each sugya. Students are urged to avoid the use of English translations.

  • In preparing for Havruta and class, each student will prepare a chart of the sugyot to show the flow of logic and the historical layers of the texts at a glance.

  • Review of Required Secondary Reading from the second edition of the Encyclopedia Judaica, 2007 (found in AJR Bet Midrash; these are also part of the packet of readings for the AJR Comprehensive Examination – Talmud Written). Students will submit a summary and analysis of each of these articles by a date announced in class:

· Mishnah – Vol. 14, pp. 319-331.

· Tosefta – Vol. 20, pp. 70-72. S. Lieberman (at end of article).

Recommended Secondary Reading:

Note: The following readings are part of the packet of readings which form the basis for the “AJR Comprehensive Examination – Talmud (Written).” You may purchase the packet from the AJR office.

These are from the revised Second Edition of the Encyclopedia Judaica, 2007 (found in the AJR Bet Midrash). Readings covered in previous courses will be reviewed and the remainder will be assigned.

  • Midrash – Vol. 14, pp. 182-185.

  • Midreshei Halakhah – Vol. 14, pp. 193-204.

  • Mishnah – Vol. 14, pp. 319-331.

  • Tosefta – Vol. 20, pp. 70-72. S. Lieberman (at end of article).

  • Talmud, Babylonian – Vol. 19, pp. 470-481. (Assigned as required reading, above).

  • Talmud, Jerusalem – Vol. 19, pp. 483-487.

Additional required and recommended secondary readings will be added as time permits,


Grade will be based on the charts of the sugyot that students will submit each week, their participation in class discussion of the dialectical flow, literary-historical structure, and theological content of those sugyot, submission of summaries of assigned secondary literature, quizzes on talmudic Aramaic, a midterm examination and a final examination. The midterm and final may contain oral components.

Please: no personal use of laptop computer, blackberry, cell phone, and other electronic devices during class to check email or voice-mail, or to surf the internet, unless it is directly connected with the class in session.