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January 19, 1990 - Image 26

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-01-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


Random House is a 323-page reference
guide to the Talmud. The guide describes
the historical background of the Tal-
mudic period and the Talmud's structure,
language and inner logic. It also lists
halachic concepts and terms and Tal-
mudic weights and measures.
Both Bava Metzia and the reference
guide have an initial press run of 20,000
copies each, a fairly substantial run for a
book as exotic as the Talmud.
At a time when the publishing industry
has been accused of valuing commercial-
ism more than literary values, it seems
The Talmud odd that the largest publishing house in
America is releasing the Talmud. But
class at
Osnos is convinced that the Talmud has
the potential to be a commercial proper-
House was
ty: "My gut tells me the audience of this
a clash
Talmud will be bigger than just the tradi-
tional Jewish audience. Rabbi Steinsaltz
those whose has a tremendous reputation going into
pivotal quest this project and people have a great curi-
osity about him and the Talmud. People
in life is the who never thought they would own a
creation of Talmud will own this one."
Even critics of the Steinsaltz project
find it hard to deny that Random
and those
has produced a handsome edition.
who have
The pages are edged in gilt; black type is
offset with occasional chapter titles in
their lives to blue type; and the general layout resem-
the work of bles the appearance of a traditional Tal-
the Creator. mud - the text of the Talmud in
Hebrew/Aramaic surrounded by other
text. Except that encircling the portions
of the Talmud on each page are the tradi-
tional commentary from Rashi (this ap-
pears in Hebrew without vowels) — and
from Steinsaltz (this appears in English.)
The Steinsaltz commentary also includes
expanded translation of the text, which
appears in literal — and much more suc-
cinct — translation elsewhere on the
page. Each page also includes brief sum-
maries of opinions of other commentators
on the Talmud, references to relevant
halachic decisions, explanations of terms
and concepts peculiar to the Talmud. Oc-
casional pages. also include thumbnail

English commen-
tary and expand-
ed translation of
the text, making
it readable and


text of the
Talmud, fully
vocalized and



rtplR Her boaket The
source of this wad is the
Greek oiXaGoe. kakithos and
rt mcard a basket with a
n.anow base

Illustration from a Greek
drawing &inning such a
basket of hug.


Marginal notes
provide essential
backgound infor-

Numbers link the
three main sec-
tions of the page
and allow readers
to refer rapidly
from one to the

M*11 Peak One of the
presenu left for the poor
feria nunoi The Torah
forbids harvesting The cor-
ners of your liekl• so that the
produce left standing may be
harvested and kept by the
pow ILnIt.13 1991
The Torah did not speedy a
mum amount of produce
to be WI as Koh. But the
Sages stipulated that It mew
be at rant one-strueth of the
Pe'oh Is set aside only from
crops that npen at one dine
and are harvested at one
time. The poor are allowed to
use their own initialise to
reap the pe'ah lee te the
fields But the owner of an
orchard must see to it that
each of the poor gets a fixed
share of the pe•ah Mom
places that are dfilcull to
reach The poor come to
collect pe'ah three tunes a
day. The lava of pe'oh am
discussed in detail in tractate




and her husband threw her a MB of divorce Into her
in a public oroughfare 'and her husband) threw
lap or into her basket which she was carrying on her
her a bill (divorce into her lap or into her basket,
head, 'would you say here, too, that she would not
'here. t , would she not be divorced?
be divorced? Surely we know that the law is that she
to hint Her basket is at rest, and it is she
is divorced in such a case, as
who walks beneath it
the Mishnah (Gittin 77a) states
met-p MISHNAH ' (If a person) was
U4 7T , rirr
riding on an animal and he saw
rTkl'7(9 • lin'? 1x riV3
m nr,d$ 'Ray Ashi said in
found object. and he sa' o
?MOW; K ,1 143 K; 1' _ a another
reply to Raving: The womarfs
person, 'Give it to me.
nrti rttitu :rp'? -mts' 'land the other person] took it
basket is considered to be at
rest, and it is she who walks
1 have acquired it:
K3;77 ; Kri lrincl 'MTN
beneath It. Thus the basket is
has acquired it. 'If. after
.rtr,nrip 'he
considered to be a 'stationary
he gave it to him. he said, 1
courtyard: and the woman
acquired it first: 'he said
144 In n11 7 Txr
acquires whatever is thrown
into it
GEMARA 'We have learned
'If a per-
there 'Someone who gathered
.17;*) 71 1•7V pe'ah and said. 'Behold this is
son was riding on an animal
for so-and-so the poor man:
and he saw an ownerless object
'117 ;Panel? ,D* 7 .7t;
lying on the ground. and he said
'Rabbi Eliezer
to another person standing
.1:115 -17;11$ 16°
nearby. 'Give that object to me,'
Pr,1 9 WIt31 co maw ,m61 Sac 5a — an'yp
'if the other person took the
') ;l'
ownerless object and said, 1
Inn ao,61n - 5,--
have acquired ft for myself: 'he
roes maw pa pbay— icon an
has acquired It by lifting it up,
16 arra 1ml rnm•fix :Alai
even though he was not the
wawa it na — aa1p *pi
first to see it. and the rider has no claim to it 'But
no obti :Duna rni6 6*t — ha Inc xs) 1211713
if, eel' he gave the object to the rider. the person
.1DID sort
— ail DX07 ro ,ma :up 61
who picked it up said 1 acquired the object asst.'
.61 ,tons
an, d, — mai oupai roan 61 bap
'he in fact said nothing. His words are of no effect,
trto — mspS room DV b r OIDD bap awip
and the rider may keep it Since the person walking
Ca hop teem DVD7 tad 'loft axial ,tax avri born TD
showed no intention of acquiring the object when he
originally picked it up, he is not now believed when
.nw Sad Iran DAM 07b — =Da not op4n: m
he claims that he acquired it first. Indeed. even if we
tsrr )vnal frifix .ask lar56
11:6 61 — ZrTD” Kn
maintain that when a person picks up an ownerless
moo a% np11 bic 6a TZSID oo fao 15967 ,-DSOs) or/
object on behalf of someone else, the latter does not
— '7D) npla
:(3,61P1 r510 11760 'Wm .6;
.11c la or
acquire it automatically. here. by giving the object to
the rider, he makes a gift of it to the rider.
'We have learned elsewhere in a Mishnah in tractate Pe'ah 141): -Someone who gathered
produce which by Torah law (Leviticus 23:221 is left unharvested in the corner of a field by the
owner of the field to be gleaned by the poor — and said. 'Behold, this pe'ah which I have gleaned is intended
for so-and-so the poor man; 'Rabbi Fleur says: The person who gathered the pe'ah has acquired It

Literal translation
of the Talmud
text into English

‘rurrni fix rn fit? p
1noz115 1);1 $1




Hebrew commen-
tary of Rashi. the
classic explana-
tion that ac-
companies all
editions of the


rut trerc sD If a person gathered pooh. the owner of a field is required to separate part of his field
According to Rashi, the Mishnah must be referring to as pe'ah. even if he himself is poor, and he may not tall
the pooh for himself. Therefore the 'since' (DD) argument
someone other than the owner of the field. By Torah law


the pe'ah on behalf of that other poor person But if the
;TOE A woman's basket if a man throws a bill of divorce
into a container that his with is holding, she thereby person who collected the pcah was wealthy, he does not
acquire the Kati on behalf of the poor person. He must
acquires the bill of divorce and the divorce takes effect.•
(Shulhan Arukh, Even HaEzer 139,10) give it Instead to the first poor person who appears in the
IDE May Fuss Clem A person who gathered pe'ah for field' following the opinion of the Sages, as explained by
someone else. if a poor person, who is himself entitled Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi. IRombant Safer Zeman Hilkhot
to collect pe'ah, gathered pe'ah for another poor person. &fattener An6yim 2:193
and said This pe'ah is for X. the poor person; he acquires

Notes highlight
points of interest
in the text and
expand the
discussion by
quoting other


A guide to a typical page in the Steinsaltz Talmud: Text encircled by commentary, halachic rulings, a literal
translation and explanations of concepts and rabbis.

sketches of rabbis referred to in the text.
Random House expects to release the
next volume of the Talmud in the spring.
A member of Rabbi Steinsaltz's Jerusa-
lem-based staff says the publisher has
made a commitment to release 15 to 20
"Our goal is not to produce the entire
Talmud in English," said this aide. "The
rabbi's purpose is to get the Jewish peo-
ple to study Talmud [in Hebrew or Ara-
maic], not to give them a reference work
for an obscure passage."

A Talmudic Crutch?

The one-time Talmud class at Random House: Feisty intellectuals versus
a world-class Talmudic scholar.

M-17 Ti



This issue of intent is at the core of a
small controversy swirling around Rabbi
Steinsaltz's Talmud. Concern has arisen
that Jews who read only English will
come to the Steinsaltz Talmud without
the proper discipline, the proper knowl-
edge — and the proper aspirations to ful-
ly know the text. They will use this new
translation as a college student would use

Cliff's Notes, those artless summaries of
classics that save a student the effort to
read the original.
Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The
New Republic, conceded that a transla-
tion is "a wonderful thing and always has
been. But the loss of the Jewish lan-
guages to the American Jewish commu-
nity is one of the most damaging features
of American Jewish life. There is nothing
that would not help American Jews more
than a little Hebrew.
"It is very important that people who
read the Talmud in translation feel a
great sense of delinquency," said Wiesel-
tier. "It is very important that they feel
guilty. Judaism is a portable religion and
it travels best in the original langauge."
The best translation of any text,
asserted Wieseltier, is one that imparts a
feeling of authenticity, yet gives its
reader a hunger for the original.
"It's not easy for a translation to do this.
But Rabbi Steinsaltz sets out to do the
opposite," Wieseltier said, referring to the
layout of the rabbi's translation which

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