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appear unrelated to the opening statement, a careful reading of the entirety reveals that the path
was not random.

         The rose among the thorns is that these conceptual, textual, linguistic, and organizational
impediments to easy access assured the Talmud's organic development over the succeeding
centuries. Generations of scholars, including Rashi, the Tosafists and Maimonides, pored over its
text and attempted to decipher its meaning, and they in turn provided intellectual grist for their
heirs.35 These scholars were not mere commentators, but rather bearers of the Talmudic genius
and methodology, utilizing its analytical approach to problem solving. It is not possible to
understand the Talmud without reference to these commentaries and, indeed, without study of
commentaries on the commentaries, etc.36

	
  
1 For example, the book of Shemos starts with ve ela, meaning "these are." The next word is shemos, meaning
"names." The latter is central to the theme of the parsha and the book.
2 MARCUS JASTROW, DICTIONARY OF THE TARGUMIM, THE TALMUD BABLI AND YERUSHALMI, AND THE MIDRASHIC
LITERATURE, WITH AN INDEX OF SCRIPTURAL QUOTATIONS 1228 (1985).
3 On certain Sabbaths two parshiyot are read. THE ARTSCROLL SERIES, THE TALMUD BAVLI: THE GEMARA: THE
CLASSIC VILNA EDITION, Megillah 29b (Schottenstein ed., 2007) [hereinafter BABYLONIAN TALMUD].

           The Babylonian Talmud contains sixty odd volumes, and is over 5,000 pages in length. It took Mesorah
Publications several years to publish their version of the Babylonian Talmud in English. Thus, while the volumes are
sold together and are regarded as one entity, many of the volumes have different publishing dates.

           Though the ArtScroll edition in English is the version of the Babylonian Talmud we choose to use, one
looking to find the factual information contained herein can use any version of the Babylonian Talmud in Aramaic
and Hebrew. The page "Megillah 29b" is universal, and contains the same text in all editions. "Megillah" is the title
of the particular volume, "29b" is the pertinent page number.
4 There is also a triennial tradition that calls for reading the Torah over a period of three years. BABYLONIAN
TALMUD, supra note 3, Baba Kamma 82a.
5 The English words are of course translations of Rashi’s explanation in Hebrew as to the meaning of tohu ve vohu.
THE ARTSCROLL SERIES, THE TORAH WITH RASHI’S COMMENTARY, Bereishis/Genesis 1/2–4:5 (Rabbi Meir
Zlotowitz & Nosson Scherman trans., 1995) [hereinafter RASHI’S COMMENTARY].

           The page "5" is particular to the Mesorah Publications version of Rashi’s commentary. However, the page
of reference can be found in any version of Rashi’s commentary in Hebrew on page
"Bereishis/Genesis 1/2–4."
6 HARRY M. ORLINSKY, ESSAYS IN BIBLICAL CULTURE AND BIBLE TRANSLATION 349–53 (1974).
7 THE ARTSCROLL SERIES, RAMBAN, THE TORAH WITH RAMBAN'S COMMENTARY TRANSLATED, 12 (Rabbi Meir
Zlotowitz & Nosson Scherman trans., 2004) [hereinafter RAMBAN COMMENTARY ON THE TORAH].
8 The Hebrew letters are daled, bet, and raish.
9 See MATITYAHU CLARK & SAMSON RAPHAEL HIRSCH, ETYMOLOGICAL DICTIONARY OF BIBLICAL HEBREW BASED
ON THE COMMENTARIES OF RABBI SAMSON RAPHAEL HIRSCH 46 (1999).
10 In Hebrew, the letters "v," "vet," and "b," "bet," look the same and are often used interchangeably.
11 The source of the concept in the text is found in BABYLONIAN TALMUD, supra note 3, Erubin 13b.
12 ARTSCROLL SERIES, THE MISHNAH, SEDER NEZIKIN, VOL. II(A), Sanhedrin, front cover flap (Matis Roberts trans.,
1987) [hereinafter THE MISHNAH].
13 See GEORGE F. MOORE, JUDAISM 251 (Cambridge Harvard University Press, 1927) ("By the side of Scripture
there had always gone an unwritten tradition, in part interpreting and applying the written Torah, in part
supplementing it."); YEHUDA NACHSHONI, STUDIES IN THE WEEKLY PARASHAH: THE CLASSICAL INTERPRETATION
OF MAJOR TOPICS AND THEMES IN THE TORAH, Sh’mos 491 (Shmuel Himelstein trans., 1988) ("'If we do not trust
[the Sages’] interpretation, we will be unable to fully understand the [commandments]. Just as we received the
Written Torah from our ancestors, so did we receive its oral interpretation. The two are inseparable. '") (quoting a
twelfth century source).
14 THE MISHNAH, supra note 12, Sanhedrin 1:3, at 199 ("There is a greater stringency attached to the words of the
Scribes [the Oral Law] than to the words of the Written Torah.").

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