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(From the root l-m-d, “to learn, to study”) Collection of commentaries on the Mishnah and the Mishnah itself. There are technically two Talmuds—the Babylonian Talmud (Talmud Bavli) and the Jerusalem Talmud (Talmud Yerushalmi; Palestinian Talmud)—although most references to Talmud are to the former. The Talmud is also colloquially referred to as Gemara [see glossary entry Gemara] and Shas (an acronym for Shishah sedarim [six orders] of the Mishnah). It is the core of traditional Jewish civilization and the chief object of study.

Talmud Torah

(lit., “study of torah”; Yid., talmedtoyre) Term used to refer broadly to the study of Torah and more specifically in an Eastern European context to a type of schooling. Talmud Torah schools were supported by communities as opposed to privately funded heders [see glossary entry Heder] and provided elementary education to orphans and poor children.


(from the root y-r-h, one of whose meanings is “to teach, to instruct”; Yid., toyre) The term Torah is used broadly to connote all of sacred literature; more specifically it refers only to the Pentateuch. The Pentateuch (Heb., Ḥumash) consists of the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.


(lit., “additions”) Talmudic novellae traditionally thought to have been written between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries in France and Germany by relatives and disciples of Rashi. Tosafists (or ba‘ale ha-tosafot, authors of the tosafot) attempted to integrate issues brought up in Talmud and often present discussions of seemingly contradictory passages and harmonize them.


(Heb., righteous) In a Hasidic context the tsadik is the perfect person anticipated in the kabbalistic teachings of Mosheh Cordovero (1522–1570). The leader of the Hasidic community, a tsadik mediates between Heaven and earth. [See Hasidism, article on Teachings and Literature.]