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The term "mishnah" is used in a number of different ways see belowbut when used as a proper noun "the Mishnah" it designates the collection of rabbinic traditions redacted by Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi usually called simply "Rabbi" at the beginning of the third century CE.
The Mishnah supplements, complements, clarifies and systematizes the commandments of the Torah. The Torah, for example, commands: The Mishnah provides this abstract commandment with a concrete form — the kiddush and havdalah rituals which mark the beginning and the ending of the Sabbath day.
The Torah commands "Observe the Sabbath day" Deut. The Mishnah specifies 39 categories of forbidden labor which are prohibited by this commandment, subsuming dozens of other kinds of labor under these 39 headings.
The Mishnah spells out specific blessings to be recited before and after each kind of food, and what to do if the wrong blessing is recited by mistake. It also extends the recitation of blessings to areas other than food, detailing blessings to be recited before and after the performance of commandments, blessings of praise and thanksgiving, even establishing a regular order of daily prayers.
When the commandments seem chaotic or inconsistent, as in Lev. When they are already relatively detailed and systematic, as in Lev. This process began long before the redaction of the Mishnah, and continued throughout the talmudic period 1st to 6th centuries CE and beyond.
Nevertheless, the Mishnah has a unique place within the rabbinic tradition. Through these works the Mishnah has shaped most of the actual practice of the Jewish religion down to the present day. In the post-talmudic period commentaries were composed to the Mishnah, and together with them the Mishnah came to serve as the authoritative epitome of the talmudic tradition as a whole.
In these two roles — as the foundation underlying the talmudic tradition and as the authoritative epitome of that tradition — the Mishnah has played a decisive role in the religious life of the Jewish people.
We will then discuss the sources of the Mishnah, its redaction, and its dissemination and acceptance in the later talmudic academies. After a discussion of the contributions of traditional and academic scholarship to the understanding of the Mishnah, we will provide a brief survey of editions, translations, and other aids to Mishnah study.
The Mishnah as a Literary Work Originally the term "mishnah" designated the entire content of traditional Torah study, with the exclusion of the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible — "mikra" in Hebrew.
In midrash, rabbinic tradition is intimately interconnected with the explication of the biblical text, and the overall literary structure of midrashic compilations follows the order of the biblical text. Halakhot contain the same rabbinic material as is found in the midrash, but without any reference to the biblical text.
In the halakhot, rabbinic tradition stands on its own, the structure and order of halakhic compilations being determined solely by the content of rabbinic tradition itself.
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Only two halakhic compilations have come down to us from the earliest period of rabbinic literature: Both of these works are divided into six sedarim sing. These six sedarim are further subdivided into tractates masekhtot, sing.
The further subdivision of chapters into smaller groups of halakhot varies from edition to edition and does not seem to be original. A tractate with a larger number of chapters comes first, followed by tractates with fewer chapters. If a seder contains more than one tractate with the same number of chapters, their order may vary between different manuscripts and editions.
In the past, chapters of the Mishnah were referenced by the opening words of their first halakhah. Today references are made to tractates by name, and to chapter and individual halakhah by number, according to the accepted division of the most recent editions.
The redaction and dissemination of the Mishnah in the early third century marked a turning point in the history of rabbinic literature. As a result, talmudic literature is divided into two periods — the earlier, tannaitic period and the later, amoraic period.
The tannaitic literature consists primarily of the Mishnah, the Tosefta, and tannaitic midrashim — Sifra, Sifre, and Mekhilta, etc. Finally, the individual unit of tannaitic tradition was called "a mishnah" pl. The baraitot were preserved not only in the Tosefta, but were also included in and transmitted as part of the amoraic tradition in the two Talmudim.
It is also used to refer to individual units of tradition, irrespective of their authoritative status Avot 6: These traditions may involve no more than the simple restatement or brief elaboration of some custom or practice.
But by far the most characteristic tendency of the individual tannaitic halakhah is the close examination of some dimension of ordinary human life or experience, and the careful categorization of certain aspects of that experience in line with a limited number of formal dichotomies.
The most obvious — and familiar — halakhic dichotomy is the one between "forbidden" asur and "permitted" mutar. This dichotomy is most regularly applied to human behavior.
For example, the Mishnah may categorize sexual relations between two individuals under certain circumstances as permitted, and under other circumstances as forbidden. While eating on the Day of Atonement is certainly forbidden, tannaitic halakhah lists certain exceptions to this rule and even requires children under a certain age to eat.People who are aware are noticing very weird stuff going on with the world information grid -especially inside the Anglo Saxon world- as contradictions and bizarre events multiply.
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