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Steinsaltz Talmud


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Tevet 22, 5770
Hi, What is your opinion of the Steinsaltz Talmud? Is this the Talmud of choice in most Religious Zionist Yeshivot? Is it wrong to change the format of the text completely to Hebrew since it has had Aramaic in it for thousands of years? Would you recommend purchasing this version? Do you yourself use it? Best,
I am hardly an authority to give my opinion of the work of a highly regarded Talmid chacham and his staff of translators and commentators who are also first rate Talmudic scholars. Nonetheless, I can offer some of my impressions which I will hope will be helpful to you and other readers. Rabbi Steinsaltz was somewhat of a pioneer in his field who started his Talmud with the intention of elucidating the entire Talmud to make it accessible to all. I think that was his intention when he wrote the book in Hebrew, "Hatlmud Lacol." The commentary is concise, consistent and very helpful for people who study Talmud especially for beginners. The Talmud of choice in all Yeshivot is the Vilna edition. The effort is made to study the original text with the commentaries of the rishonim. However, I doubt if there is a single Religious Zionist Yeshiva which does not have a copy of the Steinsaltz edition of the Talmud for reference or for those finding difficulty translating a particular text from Aramaic. It is also used by many "Daf Yomi" regulars. To the best of my knowledge there is no prohibition in translating the Talmud. All the commentaries since the Geonic period until today have been expounding the Talmud. We see today so many editions of the Talmud with translations and commentaries in many languages. The Talmud was written in Aramaic since that was the language spoken at the time. As a matter of fact there are even Geonic works which were written in Arabic and not in Hebrew since in their countries that was the spoken language, not to mention the works of scholars from the middle ages. We owe credit for the most popular format of the Talmud as we know it today to the Rom brothers and their widowed mother who published the Talmud in Vilna in the years 1880-1886. That does not mean in can not be printed or has not been printed in other formats. As far as your question if you should purchase it, that is an issue of personal taste. Try it and see if it suits you. "A man can only learn in the place where his heart desires."(Avoda Zara 19a)
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