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Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, Vol. 1: The False …

Posted By on September 15, 2018

"In this extraordinary book, Alan Hart has succeeded in elucidating for us the immediate and long term dangers involved in the unconditional Western support for Zionism and its oppressive policies against the Palestinians. The author provides us with a chilling exposure of how this embrace developed and continues to endanger the Jewish existence and fuels the anti-Semitism that refuses to disappear. Motivated by a genuine concern for peace in Israel and Palestine and beyond in the world at large, Alan Hart has written not only a strong indictment of Zionism, based on both research and personal experience, but also provided us with a charter for a better future..." Ilan Pappe, Israel's leading revisionist historian and author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

"In this extraordinary book, Alan Hart has succeeded in elucidating for us the immediate and long term dangers involved in the unconditional Western support for Zionism and its oppressive policies against the Palestinians. The author provides us with a chilling exposure of how this embrace developed and continues to endanger the Jewish existence and fuels the anti-Semitism that refuses to disappear. Motivated by a genuine concern for peace in Israel and Palestine and beyond in the world at large, Alan Hart has written not only a strong indictment of Zionism, based on both research and personal experience, but also provided us with a charter for a better future." Clare Short, MP-UK and International Development Secretary in Tony Blairs government until her resignation over Iraq

"I hope that all who are concerned about the troubles of the Middle East will read this book. It is immensely readable and a magnificent piece of work which reflects Alan Hart's close relationship with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. We are in terrible trouble in the Middle East. The book explains how we got here and how we could move forward. The tragedy is hurting Palestinians, Israelis and the rest of the world. All who wish to engage in finding a way forward will be helped by reading this book." Mark Bruzonsky MiddleEast.org, founder World Jewish Congress, first Washington Representative

"As a principled and historical review it is excellent, of great importance I think in terms of content, and the series when finished may even be considered heroic in effort and scope." Samira Quraishy, researcher, Islamic Human Rights Commission

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Amazon.com: The Flying Camel: Essays on Identity by Women …

Posted By on September 15, 2018

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Zionism – Conservapedia

Posted By on September 14, 2018

Zionism was a nationalist political movement by East European Jews dedicated to reestablishing the Jewish state in the land of Israel, starting in the late 19th century. The goal was achieved with the independence of Israel in 1948, and the term now connotes political support for the continued existence of this Jewish nation. History

Although Jews have been returning to their homeland throughout the last two thousand years, the movement in its modern guise was started in the 1890s.

For many centuries there was talk but no action; Jews did not have their own country, and most were restricted to ghettos. By 1810 the French Revolution and Napoleon liberated most of the Jews of Europe from the ghettos, allowing a new level of mobility. The Romanticism of the 19th century inspired a modern Jewish identity that led to much talk of their own nation. The movement was inspired by the writings of Moses Hess, David Luzatto, Leo Pinsker, Zvi Kalischer, and Yehudah Alkalai; funding came from philanthropists Moses Montefiore, Edmond de Rothschild, and Maurice de Hirsch.

The first wave of settlement began operations in Palestine in the 1880s; Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire until it collapsed in 1918.[1]

The first Zionist Congress met in Basel, Switzerland in August 1897, attracting 204 Jews from 15 countries. Under the leadership of Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), it resolved that "Zionism aims at the creation of a home for the Jewish people in Palestine to be secured by public law," and encouraged organized emigration and colonization. Herzl formed the World Zionist Congress, making it an effective worldwide political movement. Despite opposition from assimilationist Jews and internal divisions the Zionist organization gathered strength. After Herzl died in 1904, the leadership of the movement passed to the "practicals" notably Dr. Chaim Weizmann, who argued that Zionism should concern itself with the Jewish cultural renaissance and gradual settlement efforts in Palestine as well as with diplomatic efforts to create a legal foundation for the settlements. In 1905 one faction withdrew when the majority rejected a British proposal for establishing a Jewish homeland in Uganda, Africa.

A second, much larger wave of settlement began after the revolutionary upheavals in Russia in 1905. Most settlers supported socialist versions of Zionism, both Marxist and non-Marxist. They pioneered a new type of settlement, the kibbutz (or "kvutzah"), a cooperative in which land was owned and worked communally by the Jewish settlers. These idealistic immigrants had an influence on the development of Zionism and the state of Israel far out of proportion to their numbers. The immigrants were aided by the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth), established by the Zionist Organization to buy land in Palestine as the inalienable property of the Jewish people. By 1914, 12,000 Jews were cultivating 100,000 acres in 43 agricultural settlements. The total Jewish population was 100,000. Zionists idealized the muscular young Jews tilling the soil of the Holy Land; the heroic self-image of the brave pioneer stood in stark contrast to Gentile stereotypes of the feminized Jewish weakling or the avaricious Jew-as-money changer.

During World War I, the British government sought Jewish support. In 1917 Weizmann secured from the British government the Balfour Declaration, which promised support for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people," though nothing was to be done that might "prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities." It did not promise an independent statein Palestine. The League of Nations created a British mandate, with full control over Palestine in 1922.

In a third wave of settlement, tens of thousands of Jews arrived, mostly from Europe. They lived separately from the Arabs, though in close proximity.

The British cooperated with the Jewish Agency, which was responsible for Jewish immigration and development. Financing came from the Zionist Organization, which by the 1920s was largely funded by the large Jewish community in the United States. Institutions of national life developed rapidly. The Jews in Palestine were represented by an elected council (Vaad Leumi); it became the parliament (Knesset) of Israel in 1948. Although most settlers were farm workers, there was a very active trade union movement, the Histadrut, which also provided social welfare services. A military force, the Haganah, became an unofficial army. A new fund, the Keren Hayesod, provided capital for the development of Jewish cooperative and communal villages, which were grouped in federations of all persuasions, from religious orthodoxy to Marxism. New schools were founded, topped off by the Hebrew University, opened in 1926, a scientific center at Rehovoth, headed by Dr. Weizmann, and a Technical College at Haifa.

Hard times in the Great Depression led many to return to Europe or America; the Jewish population fell to 200,000 in 1933. The rise of Hitler, however, set off a wave of immigration, and by 1939 the Jewish population had reached 446,000. The rapid growth intensified the opposition of the Arabs. There were Arab riots against British support of a Jewish national home in 1921 and 1929, and from 1936 to 1939 there was rebellion throughout the Arab areas of Palestine. The British responded with a White Paper in 1939 that attempted to impose final limits on Jewish immigration and land purchases, but the situation of Jews in Europe was so desperate that immigration increased illegally. The British refusal to make further concessions to Jewish demands provoked attacks by Jewish terrorists of the Irgun, an underground organization Zvai Leumi, commanded by Menachem Begin, and its offshoot (from 1940) the Stern Gang.

In 1947, the UN recommended the ending of the British mandate and the partition of the country into Arab and Jewish states; Jerusalem was to be internationalized. Zionists reluctantly supported this proposal, while Arabs rejected it. Fighting broke out and on May 14, 1948, the British high commissioner departed, and the same day the Vaad Leumi declared the independence of the State of Israel, which was quickly recognized by both the United States and the Soviet Union. The next day five Arab countries launched a military attack against Israel. But they were quickly defeated, allowing Israel to annex half of Jerusalem and half of the territory allotted to the Palestinian Arabs, while Jordan annexed the remainder of Palestine except for the Gaza Strip, which was occupied by Egypt.

The next three years 1948-51 saw a mass immigration in which approximately 700,000 Jews emigrated to the new state, mostly Holocaust survivors from Europe, thereby doubling the Jewish population.

see American Jews

Zionism grew rapidly in the U.S. after 1900, based largely among Yiddish-speaking recent immigrants from Russia. The Reform Jews, of German background, largely opposed the movement with the main exception of Louis Brandeis, the Supreme Court justice who became a key leader. There were three main groups in 1918: the Zionist Organization of America had 149,000 members, the Mizrachi religious Zionists had 18,000 and the Labor Zionists ( Poalei Zion) had 7,000. The pro-Zionist Yiddish language daily newspapers of the periodthe Yidishes Tageblat, Morgen Zhurnal, the Maccabaean, and Der Togtogether had a combined circulation in 1917 of over 200,000.

The Labor Zionists, although originally founded in Europe on the basis of socialism, had Americanized and largely abandoned socialism in the 1920s. Membership of all three plummeted during the early 1920s, but soared the after Arab massacres of Jews in Palestine in 1929 and the coming to power of Hitler and the Nazis in Germany in 1933.[2]

World War II marked a decisive watershed. The 1942 Biltmore Conference was a major step toward the activist program of David Ben Gurian and helped turn American Jews away from the pro-British approach of Weizmann. The American Jewish Conference, in August 1943, gave voice to the collective anguish of American Jewry over the full-scale annihilation of the Jews of Europe by the Nazis. The horror of the Holocaust shaped and galvanized American Zionism. It convinced many previously hostile or neutral American Jews that statehood was the best answer to the plight of the Jews of Europe. It catapulted Abba Hillel Silver and his fellow-activists to power and enabled them to transform the Zionist movement into a powerful force not only in the Jewish community but in the wider arena of American politics. For example, the new sensibility was embraced by President Harry S. Truman, who overrode his vehemently anti-Zionist State Department.[3]

The fighting between the Yishuv and the Palestinians, November 1947-14 May 1948, and the war between Israel and invading Arab armies, 15 May 1948-July 1949, represented a total war, as did the Six Day War pf 1967. The life and death of Israel were at stake and required the mobilization of not only the military but also the civilian population, the economy, and the social and political institutions of the Jewish communityas well as mobilizing support from the diaspora in the United States. These crises are a central part of Zionist memories and identity, in combination with memory of the Holocaust, and permanently shaped the Israeli-Arab situation as well as the evolution of the Israeli and Palestinian societies.[4]

Zionism, and Israel, are based on the connection between the Jewish religion and 'Jewishness,' which gives Israel and Zionism 'extraterritorial' power and rights ranging outside the country. This is similar to the ideologies dominant in Ireland, Tibet, and Armenia, where nationalist movements and nation-states are closely linked to religious heritage, a culture of forced diaspora, and the 'extraterritorial' power of their cultural or ethnic identities.

With few exceptions, Muslims around the world are hostile to Zionism and Israel, often to the point of promising the destruction of the state. The Palestinian Arabs, many of whom fled during the unrest that followed the reestablishment of the Israeli state are among those opposed to its existence, as are many other Arabs who are allied with them.

Since the 1960s anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism formed part of a larger ideological package consisting of anticolonialism, anticapitalism, and a deep suspicion of US policies. In the eyes of members of the developing countries, Jews became a symbol of the West and legitimate targets for hatred.

Iran espouses the most radical anti-Israeli or anti-Zionist position in the Muslim Middle East, calling for the elimination of Israel. Drawing on anti-Jewish traditions in Shi`i Islam, Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic, maintained that Zionism is the culmination of the Jewish-Christian conspiracy against Islam and undermines its historical mission. Fusing together Islamic and European anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist ideologies, Iran became a disseminator of Holocaust denial in the Middle East and a sponsor of Western Holocaust deniers. Iran's Holocaust denial, which aims at demolishing the legitimacy of the Jewish state, denies Jewish history and deprives the Jews of their human dignity by presenting their worst tragedy as a scam[5]

Zionism is sharply criticized in the U.S. and Europe by non-Jews who believe that Palestinians are poorly treated by Israel. In the U.S. other critics complain that pro-Israeli interest groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee have an excessive amount of influence over US policy. In general, most of the left-wing parties in Europe today oppose Zionism and are hostile to Israel.

In the United States and Europe, until World War II the Reform Jews generally opposed Zionismoften denouncing it because it was the opposite of assimilation and American identity. In the U.S. opposition was centered in the American Council for Judaism.[6] With the establishment of Israel in 1948 the opposition softened, and when the Six Day War in 1967 showed Israel was vulnerable to attack, most previously negative Jews became supportive.[7]

In the U.S., many leftist Jews such as Noam Chomsky are hostile to Israel, and are often very friendly to Hamas and the Palestinian cause.

In Israel a small minority of religious Jews, most prominently the Neturei Karta sect, are anti-Zionist for theological reasons. After the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, three important secular Jewish groups opposed an all-Jewish nation state because it was too religious. The Jewish Labor Bund retained its long-standing critical view of Zionism. Together with the Communist Party of Israel and the socialist Matzpen organization, it fought against Zionism both outside and inside Israel. The Bund challenged Israel's domination over the Jewish diaspora, its discrimination against Arabs in Israel, and its refusal to grant the Palestinians the right to self-determination. However, because of an understanding with the Communists, the Bund was not able to proclaim its ideas in the Israeli Knesset. The Bund remained a minor organization in Israel that had only limited success in the promotion of the Yiddish language and culture. The most important ideological change in the period 1948-72 was the strengthening of the right-wing and social democratic currents in the party. As regards the Bund's approach to the question of Israel/Palestine, the Bund's most significant shift was from advocating a binational federated state to advocating a federation of two nation-states.

The movement was theoretical and theological until recent decades, when it became the basis for widespread support for Israel among American Fundamentalists.

see Christian Zionism

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Zionism - Conservapedia

Holocaust Denial: Demographics, Testimonies and Ideologies

Posted By on September 6, 2018

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Holocaust Denial: Demographics, Testimonies and Ideologies

The Crisis of Zionism: Peter Beinart: 9781250026736 …

Posted By on September 4, 2018

A brave book. Paul Krugman, The New York Times

Passionately argued. David Remnick, The New Yorker

An excellent, loving, and wise book about Israel... Eminently reasonable. Joe Klein, Time

A sharp and ambitious polemic. Bernard Avishai, The Nation

An important new book that rejects the manipulation of Jewish victimhood in the name of Israel's domination of the Palestinians.... Important and timely for the future of Israel. Roger Cohen, The New York Times

Mr. Beinart has a book.... called The Crisis of Zionism. Chapter five, on 'The Jewish President,' fully justifies the cover price. Bret Stephens, The Wall Street Journal

A terrifyingly frank account of our current state of affairs. Andrew Sullivan

Mr. Beinart thinks America's Jews must redeem both themselves and Israel by rededicating themselves to Israel's ethical character.... The sentiment is noble, and the message deserves to be heard. The Economist

An impressive achievement. Alan Wolfe, The Chronicle of Higher Education

[A] probing, courageous and timely book... [It] marks a significant evolution in the debate over Israel. The National Interest

A passionately argued work that will evoke intense debate. Booklist

An elegant, deeply honest look at the failure of Jewish liberalism in forging Israel as a democratic state Straight talk by a clear-thinking intellectual with his heart in the right place. Kirkus Reviews

Peter Beinart has written a deeply important book for anyone who cares about Israel, its security, its democracy, and its prospects for a just and lasting peace. Beinart explains the roots of the current political and religious debates within Israel, raises the tough questions that can't be avoided, and offers a new way forward to achieve Zionism's founding ideals, both in Israel and among the diaspora Jews in the United States and elsewhere. President Bill Clinton

Peter Beinart has written the outstanding Zionist statement for the twenty-first century. The Crisis of Zionism is a courageously scathing critique of the sorry state of Zionism today and a clarion call to reaffirm the linkage of liberal values, Jewish commitment, and democratic practice that made the creation of the state of Israel possible and is the key to its moral and physical survival. Naomi Chazan, former deputy speaker of the Knesset and president of the New Israel Fund

Progress in the United States has most often occurred when patriotic Americans have insisted on facing our failures head on and holding us to our founding ideals. In that spirit, Peter Beinart has written a brave and important book about Zionism today. Anyone who loves Israel and wishes to see it survive must read this book. Anne-Marie Slaughter, Bert G. Kerstetter '66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs, and former dean, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

The Crisis of Zionism is a must read for everyone who cares about the future of Israel. Peter Beinart makes a strong case for a vision of Zionism that encompasses ending the occupation of the West Bank and deepening Jewish education in America. Even if you disagree with him, you should still read this book. Edgar M. Bronfman, president of The Samuel Bronfman Foundation

If you are concerned about Israel's future, you should read this book. It will inform, provoke, and challenge you, as the author, with clarity and grace, lays out the looming dangers to Israeli democracy and appeals for a Jewish state that is both democratic and just to all, including its Arab minority. Lee H. Hamilton, former Congressman and Vice-Chair of the 9/11 Commission

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The Crisis of Zionism: Peter Beinart: 9781250026736 ...

About Us – bnaibrith.org

Posted By on August 26, 2018

Our Mission

Bnai Brith International is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people around the globe. We are a national and global leader in advancing human rights; Israel advocacy; ensuring access to safe and affordable housing for low-income seniors and advocacy on vital issues concerning seniors and their families; diversity education; improving communities and helping communities in crisis. Since 1843, Bnai Brith has played a vital role around the world.Making the world a safer, more tolerant and better place is the mission that still drives our organization.

Thus, B'nai B'rith (children of the covenant) was born.

The original members' first concrete action was creating an insurance policy that awarded members' widows $30 toward funeral expenses, and a stipend of one dollar a week for the rest of their lives. Each child would also receive a stipend and, for male children, assurance he would be taught a trade.

It is from this basis of humanitarian aid and service that a system of fraternal lodges and chapters grew in the United States and, eventually, around the world.

Bnai Brith is rooted in these major pillars:

Human Rights and Public Policy:We monitor and combat anti-Semitism and other human rights abuses around the world. Through our office of intercommunal affairs, we play an active role cultivating religious tolerance and cooperation internationally.

Supporting and Defending Israel:We are a staunch supporter and defender of Israel at the United Nations and its affiliated agencies, in world capitals and in a variety of international organizations. Our World Center in Jerusalem is our connection to a wide range of Israeli governmental, academic and cultural institutions. The World Center promotes strong Israel-Diaspora relations. It is the voice of the B'nai B'rith community to the Israeli government, national institutions and the NGO community in Israel. The World Center sponsors cultural programs and interchange. As a founding member of IsraAid, the World Center works with many other Israeli relief organizations.

Senior Advocacy and Housing:We are proud to be the largest Jewish sponsor of federally subsidized housing for the elderly in the United States with 42 buildings in 26 communities. Working in partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, B'nai B'rith makes rental apartments available for senior citizens with limited incomes. B'nai B'rith senior housing is open to all qualified individuals as defined by HUD, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, handicap or national origin. This unparalleled expertise in protecting seniors and advocating on aging issues gives us the ability to also serve as a respected voice on a wide variety of issues affecting seniors, includingbut not limited toSocial Security and Medicare.Helping Communities:Bnai Brith has raised funds to help the victims of disasters around the world since 1865. Our commitment to helping communities lasts long after the first-responders have done their vital work. Additionally, Bnai Brith volunteers are active in their local communities with a wide variety of local projects ranging from distributing holiday-appropriate food for elderly Jewish residents who would not otherwise be able to celebrate the holiday to collecting and distributing day-old baked goods to shelters and schools to feed the hungry and much more.

B'nai B'rith International has been working for you and for all Jews around the world since 1843.

B'nai B'rith was present at the founding of the United Nations in San Francisco and has taken an active role ever since as an NGO (nongovernmental organization) advocating for Israel and human rights at the U.N. and other international organizations.

With the graying of the American-Jewish population, service to seniors became a major focus in 1971. In that year B'nai B'rith opened its first senior residence in what would become a network of 40 senior residences in more than 25 communities across the United States and internationally. B'nai B'rith is the largest national Jewish sponsor of housing for seniors.

B'nai B'rith International has not moved far from its roots, but rather allowed these roots to grow in countries all across the globe. No other Jewish organization can point to a longer, more all-encompassing history of service to Jews and all people around the world.

Since our founding in 1843, B'nai B'rith has been a leader in the fields of human rights, community service and philanthropy. Our vital work around the globe, spanning three centuries, has been recognized by U.S. presidents and other world leaders. From Glover Cleveland to Barack Obama, American presidents have acknowledged that B'nai B'rith's commitment to promoting programs of tolerance and diversity, enhancing cooperation between all races and religions, serving the vulnerable and advancing human rights has enriched not only the Jewish people, but all people.

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About Us - bnaibrith.org

What Is the Talmud? – How and why was the Oral Torah written …

Posted By on August 23, 2018

The Talmud is acollection of writings that covers the full gamut of Jewish law and tradition,compiled and edited between the third and sixth centuries.

Talmud is Hebrew for "learning," appropriate for a text that people devote their lives to studying and mastering.

The main text of theTalmud is the Mishnah, a collection of terse teachings written in Hebrew,redacted by Rabbi Yehudah the Prince, in the years following the destruction ofthe Second Temple in Jerusalem.

Over the next severalhundred years, the rabbis continued to teach and expound. Many of thoseteachings were collected into two great bodies, the Jerusalem Talmud,containing the teachings of the rabbis in the Land of Israel, and theBabylonian Talmud, featuring the teachings of the rabbis of Babylon. These twoworks are written in the Aramaic dialects used in Israel and Babyloniarespectively.

There are manycommentaries written on the Talmuds (mostly on the Babylonian Talmud, which ismore widely studied), notably the elucidating notes of Rashi (Rabbi ShlomoYitzchaki, 10th Century France), Tosafot (a group of rabbis wholived in the years following Rashi, many of whom were his descendants and/orhis students).

These two commentariesare printed together with the Babylonian Talmud, surrounding the main text,having become an part of the study of Talmud. The standard edition of theBabylonian Talmud comprises 2,711 double-sided pages, with many, many morepages filled with the teachings of other commentators.

The first page of Talmud as it appears in standard editions, the text surrounded by the commentaries of Rashi,Tosafot, and others.

The Talmud is divided into six general sections, called sedarim (orders):

Zeraim (Seeds), dealing primarily with the agricultural laws, but also the laws of blessings and prayers (contains 11 tractates).

Moed (Festival), dealing with the laws of the Shabbat and the holidays (contains 12 tractates).

Nashim (Women), dealing with marriage and divorce (contains 7 tractates).

Nezikin (Damages), dealing with civil and criminal law, as well as ethics (contains 10 tractates).

Kodashim (Holy [things]), dealing with laws about the sacrifices, the Holy Temple, and the dietary laws (contains 11 tractates).

Taharot (Purities), dealing with the laws of ritual purity (contains 12 tractates).

As anyone who has learned the Bible can attest, there are certain verses where there is no way of knowing what it refers to by just looking at the verse. Examples include the commandment to circumcise oneself, or to put tefillin on the arm and head, or to take the four species on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

There is no way of knowing from the verses alone what exactly are we supposed to cut when we make a circumcision, or how to put on tefillin, or even what it is. The same holds true for almost all other commandments. More details are given in the Written Torah for some commandments than for others, but at the end of the day, there is a glaring lack of detail and information.

This is where the Oral Torah comes in. It is an owners manual and companion guide (so to speak) for the Torah. With it we can understand what the Torah means, and determine the details of the various commandments. Furthermore, we have rules of exegesis so that we can determine the Torahs view on various issues that are not directly addressed. The Oral Torah comprises traditions and extrapolations based on the inscribed Torah, the Bible.

Just before the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, Gd tells Moses that He will give him the stone tablets, the Torah and the commandments." By adding the word commandments in addition to the Torah, Gd implies that there commandments that are not included in the Torah. This, among others, is a clear implication of the existence of the Oral Torah.

The Torah itself commands us to keep the Oral Torah:

You shall do according to the word they tell you, from the place the Lrd will choose, and you shall observe to do according to all they instruct you. According to the law they instruct you and according to the judgment they say to you, you shall do; you shall not diverge from the word they tell you, either right or left.

The traditions of the Oral Torah were passed down from generation to generation, from Moses to Joshua, and from there down to the leaders and sages of each generation, until eventually, after the destruction of the Second Temple, they were written down in what is known as the Mishnah, Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud) and Talmud Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Talmud).

The above leads us to the obvious question. If the Oral Torah is so essential to understanding the written Torah, why wasnt the Oral Torah written down to begin with?

Before Moses received the second set of tablets, The Lrd said to Moses: Write down these words for yourself, since it is through these words [lit., by word of mouth] that I have formed a covenant with you and with Israel.

The Talmud explains that this verse implies that there is a prohibition of saying the written word by heart, and of writing down the Oral Torah:

Rabbi Yehudah bar Nachmani, the public orator of Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish, taught as follows: It is written, Write down these words for yourselfimplying that the Torah is to be put into writing; and it is also written, since it is through these words (lit., by word of mouth)implying that it is not to be written down. What are we to make of this? It means: Regarding the written words, you are not at liberty to say them by heart; and the words transmitted orally, you are not at liberty to recite from a written text.

A tanna of the school of Rabbi Ishmael taught: It is written, Write down these wordsthese you may write (i.e., the Written Torah), but you may not write halachah (i.e., the Oral Torah).

There are many different reasons given for the prohibition of writing down the Oral Torah. Among them:

Practically, if the Oral Torah was to be written, including all the laws that govern every possible case that could arise, there would be no end to the amount of books that would need to be written. Therefore, only the parts of the Torah that can be limitedi.e., the twenty-four books of scripturewere to be written down; the rest is supposed to be transmitted orally.

Any written text is subject to ambiguities, multiple interpretations, dissensions among the people, and confusion with regards to what actions to take based on the law. Therefore, Gd also gave a tradition that would be taught orally from teacher to student, so that the teacher could clarify any ambiguities. Had this oral tradition also been put to writing, it would then have required another work of explanation and elucidation to explain that work, ad infinitum. Indeed, this concern was borne out when the Oral Torah was eventually written down.

The oral tradition is the explanation of the Written Torah. When it has to be learnt orally, the student will understand it only from a teacher who teaches the material well; had it been written down, one might be tempted to be satisfied with what is written, even without really understanding it.

Keeping part of the Torah oral ensures that that the Torah remains the private treasure of the covenantal community. Had the entire Torah been written down, any nation could have copied it and claimed it as their own; now that it was only partially written down, any copying done without access to the Oral Torah would be immediately discernible as foreign to the Torah.

For over a thousand years, from the days of Moses until the days of Rabbi Yehudah the Prince (late 2nd century CE), no one had composed a written text for the purpose of teaching the Oral Law in public. Instead, in each generation, the head of the court or the prophet of that generation would take notes of the teachings which he received from his masters for himself, and teach them orally in public. Similarly, individuals would write notes for themselves of what they had heard regarding the explanation of the Torah, its laws, and the new concepts that were deduced in each generation concerning laws that were not communicated by the oral tradition, but rather derived using one of the thirteen principles of biblical exegesis and accepted by the high court. For while there was a prohibition against writing the Oral Torah, it applied only to actually transmitting it through writing; however, one was permitted to write it down for personal use.

With the rise of the Greek and Roman empires and their persecution of the Jews during the Second Temple era, it became increasingly harder to learn and transmit Torah teachings from teacher to student. Additionally, during this era there were disputes in Jewish law that, due to the increase in decrees against Torah learning, remained unsettled, since doing so would require peace and calm.

By the time the schools of Hillel and Shammai became well established in the century before the destruction of the Temple, disputes on the law had become so widespread that there was fear that it would eventually seem like there were really two Torahs. The unsettled conditions prevented the sages of those times from resolving these disputes, or even at least organizing and categorizing them.

It was not until the days of Rabbi Yehudah the Prince, who enjoyed a strong bond of friendship with the Roman emperor Antoninus, that there was some respite from the Roman persecutions. (See here for the story of how their friendship began.)

Rabbi Yehudah and his colleagues, foreseeing future turmoil and the increasing dispersal of the Jewish people throughout the Diaspora, which would then lead to further uncertainties about the Oral Law, used this period of peace to set about collecting all the teachings, laws and commentaries that had been heard from Moses and which were taught by the courts in each generation concerning the entire Torah. After analyzing these teachings, Rabbi Yehudah composed a single authoritative text that would be available to everyone.

As a basis for his text, Rabbi Yehudah used the teachings of Rabbi Akiva and his disciple Rabbi Meir, due to their great capacity to retain what they learned, and the superb and extremely concise and precise way in which they had arranged their own teachings and what they had heard from previous generations. He also added other teachings, leaving some of their original wording, but also at times changing it.

Since there were rabbis who might have heard from other sages minority opinions that were not accepted as halachah, Rabbi Yehudah also included these minority opinions in the Mishnah. This way, should a person claim, I have heard a different tradition from my teachers, we would be able to point to the Mishnah and say, Perhaps what you have heard was the opinion of so-and-so.

He categorized and divided the laws by subject and into different tractates, and then each tractate was further divided into chapters and laws. Each law is called a mishnah, either from the root shanah, meaning teaching and instruction, or from the root sheni, meaning second, as in the second part of the Torah. Thus the entire work in general is called the Mishnah or Mishnayot.

While all classic sources agree that Rabbi Yehudah redacted the entire Mishnah that we have today, there are differences of opinion as to whether he actually wrote it down or continued to teach it orally. Rabbi Sherira Gaon and Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (Rashi) are of the opinion that Rabbi Yehudah merely formulated the entire Mishnah orally, but that it was written down only many years later. Maimonides, on the other hand, writes explicitly that Rabbi Yehudah himself actually wrote down the entire Mishnah. In an attempt to reconcile the two views, some explain that while Rabbi Yehudah did in fact write a personal copy of the Mishnah, in general it was originally taught orally, and it was only later that the written version was used.

Not all of the extant material was included in the Mishnah. For had Rabbi Yehudah attempted to collect it all, it would have been too lengthy and would have been forgotten, thus defeating the very purpose of the Mishnah. Instead, Rabbi Yehudah, with the help of his colleague Rabbi Natan, formulated the essential topics and general rules in an abbreviated and precise language. They were divinely aided in composing the Mishnah in such a way that a single word can be the source for a number of fundamental principles of Jewish law as well as homiletics.

For reasons of brevity, too, the Mishnah does not include many of the laws that were common knowledge, such as the details of tefillin, tzitzit, mezuzah, etc. As an example, the very first mishnah, which deals with the laws of the recital of Shema, does not begin by informing us that it must be recited in the morning and evening, but by asking, What is the right time for saying the Shema? taking it for granted that one already knows the actual obligation of the daily recital of the Shema.

These features of the Mishnah won it general acceptance as the definitive summation of Jewish law; indeed, its compilation (c. 3949/189 CE) marks the end of an era, with the Mishnaic sages being known in Jewish history as the tannaim (instructors, from an Aramaic root cognate with shanah) and the subsequent sages being called amoraim (explainers). The Mishnah supplanted all previous collections and formulations of Tannaitic teachings, which then came to be known as baraitot (sing. baraita), meaning [teachings] outside [the Mishnah]. The most prominent collection of baraitot is that of Rabbi Chiya (a student of Rabbi Yehudah) and Rabbi Oshaya, known as the Tosefta. It follows the order of the Mishnah and supplements it, elaborating somewhat more on the laws.

In a broader sense, the term baraita includes other collections of material containing teachings by the tannaim, such as Megillat Taanit, Mechilta, Sifra, Sifri, Seder Olam Rabbah and Zohar.

The sages of the Talmudic period, known as amoraim, continued to study, expound, clarify and elucidate the Mishnah, as well as developing their own new insights based upon the rules of extrapolation.

Shortly after Rabbi Yehudahs death, attacks and persecutions against the Jews living in Israel intensified and the migration of Jews to Babylonia increased. This migration included many of the leading sages of the time, including Rabbi Abba Aricha (better known as Rav), one of Rabbi Yehudahs leading disciples. Other sages and students of Rabbi Yehudah, such as Rabbi Chiya and later Rabbi Yochanan bar Nafcha (who as a young boy attended Rabbi Yehudahs lectures), remained in Israel. Thus for a while there were major centers of learning, yeshivot, in both Babylonia and Israel, and some amoraim regularly traveled back and forth between them, bringing the teachings of each center of learning to the other center.

Rabbi Yochanan (d. approx. 4050/290 CE) became the leading Talmudic authority in the Land of Israel. He began gathering the teachings and explanations of the post-Mishnaic sages, and this became the basis of what later became known as the Talmud Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Talmud). Subsequent generations of amoraim in Israel continued to add various teachings, especially aggadic (homiletic and non-legal) ones. However, work on the Jerusalem Talmud was halted somewhat abruptly when the Roman ruler Gallus, in the year 4111/351 CE, attacked and devastated the Land of Israel, instituting harsh decrees against the Jews. Most of the remaining sages fled to Babylonia, and the Jerusalem Talmud remained in its rudimentary form.

Meanwhile the centers of learning in Babylonia continued to flourish, and it was not until around the year 4152/392 CE that Rav Ashi, together with his colleague Ravina I, undertook the editing of what was to become the Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud). They gathered the teachings of the earlier sages, organized and clarified their statements about the Mishnah and the discussions of the amoraim on these, and presented these in a logical and comprehensible way.

Both Talmuds contain many of the same teachings, and each one quotes sages from the other center. However, because the Jerusalem Talmud was never fully redacted while the Babylonian Talmud was, and furthermore because the latter was completed some 150 years later, the Babylonian Talmud is much more widely learned and considered more authoritative. In fact, any unspecified reference to the Talmud almost always refers to the Babylonian recension.

(There are also differences in stylethe Jerusalem Talmud is written with less back-and-forth than the Babylonian Talmudand in language: the amoraic discussions in the Jerusalem Talmud are written in Western Aramaic (Syriac), while in the Babylonian Talmud they are in the Eastern Aramaic dialect. See Why is The Talmud in Aramaic?)

After Rav Ashi and Ravina I died, their colleagues and students who had helped redact the Talmud completed their monumental task. The death of Ravina II (son of Rav Huna and nephew of Ravina I) on the 13th of Kislev in the year 4236/475 CE (or, according to some, 4260/499 CE) is considered the end of the Talmudic era.

After the death of Ravina II and the completion of the Talmud, no further additions to the Talmud were made, and the Talmud was not to be disputed. The sages of the succeeding era (known as the Rabbanan Savorai), however, added some slight editorial touches, such as subheadings from the Mishnah in places where the Talmud begins a new subject.

The sages who taught the teachings, ordinances and decrees which make up the Talmud represented the totality of the sages of Israel, or at least the majority of them. Because of this, and because the Talmud was accepted as binding by almost the entire Jewish people at the time, its laws are considered binding on all Jews no matter when or where they live. And it is precisely this binding that has kept our Jewish identity strong for thousands of years throughout this long and bitter exile. May we merit the ultimate redemption speedily in our days!

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