Rabbinic literature
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Rabbinic literature, in its broadest sense, is the entire spectrum of
rabbi A rabbi () is a spiritual leader or religious teacher in Judaism. One becomes a rabbi by being ordained by another rabbi – known as ''semikha'' – following a course of study of Jewish history and texts such as the Talmud. The basic form of ...
nic writings throughout
Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים, , ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a combination of shared features such as language, history, ethnicity, culture and/or ...
history. However, the term often refers specifically to literature from the
Talmud The Talmud (; he, , Talmūḏ) is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the Talmud was the center ...
ic era, as opposed to
medieval In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire ...
and modern rabbinic writing, and thus corresponds with the
Hebrew Hebrew (; ; ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-surviving descendants, ...
term ''Sifrut Chazal'' ( he, ספרות חז״ל "Literature f oursages," where '' Hazal'' normally refers only to the sages of the Talmudic era). This more specific sense of "Rabbinic literature"—referring to the
Talmud The Talmud (; he, , Talmūḏ) is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the Talmud was the center ...
im,
Midrash ''Midrash'' (;"midrash"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
he, מִדְרָשׁ; ...
( he, מדרש), and related writings, but hardly ever to later texts—is how the term is generally intended when used in contemporary academic writing. The terms ''meforshim'' and ''parshanim'' (commentaries/commentators) almost always refer to later, post-Talmudic writers of rabbinic glosses on Biblical and Talmudic texts.


Mishnaic literature

The Midr'she halakha,
Mishnah The Mishnah or the Mishna (; he, מִשְׁנָה, "study by repetition", from the verb ''shanah'' , or "to study and review", also "secondary") is the first major written collection of the Jewish oral traditions which is known as the Oral Tor ...
, and Tosefta (compiled from materials pre-dating the year 200 CE) are the earliest extant works of rabbinic literature, expounding and developing Judaism's
Oral Law An oral law is a code of conduct in use in a given culture, religion or community application, by which a body of rules of human behaviour is transmitted by oral tradition and effectively respected, or the single rule that is orally transmitted. M ...
, as well as ethical teachings. Following these came the two Talmuds: *The
Jerusalem Talmud The Jerusalem Talmud ( he, תַּלְמוּד יְרוּשַׁלְמִי, translit=Talmud Yerushalmi, often for short), also known as the Palestinian Talmud or Talmud of the Land of Israel, is a collection of rabbinic notes on the second-century ...
, c. 450 CE *The
Babylonian Talmud The Talmud (; he, , Talmūḏ) is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the Talmud was the center ...
, full canonization of all the previous texts c. 600 CE. *The minor tractates (part of the Babylonian Talmud)


The Midrash

Midrash (pl. ''Midrashim'') is a Hebrew word referring to a method of reading details into, or out of, a biblical text. The term ''midrash'' also can refer to a compilation of Midrashic teachings, in the form of legal, exegetical, homiletical, or narrative writing, often configured as a commentary on the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek , , 'the books') is a collection of religious texts or scriptures that are held to be sacredness, sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, and many other religions. The Bible is an anthologya compilation of ...
or
Mishnah The Mishnah or the Mishna (; he, מִשְׁנָה, "study by repetition", from the verb ''shanah'' , or "to study and review", also "secondary") is the first major written collection of the Jewish oral traditions which is known as the Oral Tor ...
. There are a large number of "classical" Midrashic works spanning a period from Mishnaic to Geonic times, often showing evidence of having been worked and reworked from earlier materials, and frequently coming to us in multiple variants. A compact list of these works ased on is given below; a more thorough annotated list can be found under Midrash. The timeline below must be approximate because many of these works were composed over a long span of time, borrowing and collating material from earlier versions; their histories are therefore somewhat uncertain and the subject of scholarly debate. In the table, "n.e." designates that the work in question is not extant except in secondary references.


Later works by category


Aggada

* Alphabet of Rabbi Akiva * Ein Yaakov * Legends of the Jews *
Midrash HaGadol Midrash HaGadol or The Great Midrash (Hebrew: מדרש הגדול) is a work of aggadah, aggaddic midrash, expanding on the narratives of the Pentateuch, which was written by Rabbi David Adani of Yemen (14th century). Its contents were compiled f ...
* Midrash Hashkem * Midrash Rabba * Midrash Shmuel * Midrash Tehillim *
Pesikta de-Rav Kahana Pesikta de-Rab Kahana (Hebrew: פסיקתא דרב כהנא) is a collection of aggadic midrash which exists in two editions, those of Solomon Buber (Lyck, 1868) and Bernard Mandelbaum (1962). It is cited in the ''Arukh'' and by Rashi. The name ...
* Pesikta Rabbati * Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer * Seder Olam Rabbah * Seder Olam Zutta * Sefer HaAggadah * Sefer haYashar (midrash) * Smaller midrashim * Tanhuma * Tanna Devei Eliyahu * Tseno Ureno * Yalkut Shimoni


Hasidic thought

* '' Keter Shem Tov'' * '' Tzavaat HaRivash'' * ''Toledot Yaakov Yosef'' * ''Ben Porat Yosef'' * ''Tzafnat Paneach'' * ''Ketonet Pasim'' * ''Magid Devarav L'Yaakov'' * ''Or Torah'' * ''Menachem Zion'' * ''Meor Einayim'' and ''Yesamach Lev'' * ''Noam Elimelech'' * ''Menorat Zahav'' * ''Avodat Yisrael'' * ''Pri Ha'Aretz'' and ''P'ri Ha'Eitz'' * ''Kedushas Levi'' * ''Bet Aharon'' * ''Yosher Divrei Emes'' * ''Tanya'' (''Likutei Amarim'') * '' Torah Or/Likutei Torah'' * ''Likutei Moharan'' * ''Sichot HaRan'' * ''Be'er Mayim Hayyim'' * ''Siduro Shel Shabbos'' * ''Avodas HaLevi'' * '' Mei Hashiloach'' * ''Kol Simcha'' * ''Bnei Yissachar'' * ''Imrei Elimelech'' and ''Divrei Elimelech'' * ''Aish Kodesh'' * '' Sefas Emes'' * '' Imrei Emes'' * '' Shem Mishmuel'' * '' Likkutei Sichos'' * ''Netivot Shalom'' * ''Darchei Noam''


Hebrew poetry

* Biblical poetry * Medieval Hebrew poetry


Jewish liturgy

* Piyyut * Siddur


Jewish philosophy

* Chovot HaLevavot * Derech Hashem * Emunah Ubitachon * Emunot v'Dayyot * Kad ha-Kemach * Kuzari * Moreh Nevukhim (Guide for the Perplexed) * Milchamot Hashem (Wars of the Lord) * Nefesh Ha-Chaim * Or Adonai * Perek Chelek *
Philo Philo of Alexandria (; grc, Φίλων, Phílōn; he, יְדִידְיָה, Yəḏīḏyāh (Jedediah); ), also called Philo Judaeus, was a Hellenistic Judaism, Hellenistic Jewish Jewish philosophy, philosopher who lived in Alexandria, in the ...
* Sefer ha-Ikkarim


Kabbalah

* Etz Chaim * Maggid Mesharim * Pardes Rimonim * Sefer haBahir * Sefer Raziel HaMalakh *
Sefer Yetzirah ''Sefer Yetzirah'' ( ''Sēp̄er Yəṣīrā'', ''Book of Formation'', or ''Book of Creation'') is the title of a book on Jewish mysticism, although some early commentators treated it as a treatise on mathematical and linguistic theory as opposed ...
* Tikunei haZohar * Tomer Devorah *
Zohar The ''Zohar'' ( he, , ''Zōhar'', lit. "Splendor" or "Radiance") is a foundational work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbalah. It is a group of books including commentary on the mystical aspects of the Torah (the fiv ...


Jewish law

* Arba'ah Turim * Aruch HaShulchan * Beit Yosef * Ben Ish Hai * Chayei Adam and Chochmat Adam * Darkhei Moshe * Halachot Gedolot * Kaf HaChaim * Hilchot HaRif * Kessef Mishneh * Kitzur Shulchan Aruch * Levush Malchut * Minchat Chinuch * Mishnah Berurah *
Mishneh Torah The ''Mishneh Torah'' ( he, מִשְׁנֵה תּוֹרָה, , repetition of the Torah), also known as ''Sefer Yad ha-Hazaka'' ( he, ספר יד החזקה, , book of the strong hand, label=none), is a Legal code, code of Rabbinic Judaism, Rabbi ...
* Responsa literature * Sefer ha-Chinuch * Sefer Hamitzvot * Sefer Mitzvot Gadol * Shulchan Aruch * Shulchan Aruch HaRav * Yalkut Yosef


Musar literature

* Mesillat Yesharim * Orchot Tzaddikim * Sefer Chasidim * Shaarei Teshuva * Sefer ha-Yir'ah * Chovot ha-Levavot * Ma'alot ha-Middot * Mishnat R' Aharon * Mikhtav me-Eliyahu * Tomer Devorah * Sichos Mussar * Pele Yoetz * Kav ha-Yashar * Kad HaKemah * Madreigat Ha'Adam * Shemonah Perakim


Later works by historical period


Works of the Geonim

The Geonim are the rabbis of Sura and Pumbeditha, in
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Bāḇel'' * syc, ܒܒܠ ''Bāḇel'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bāvel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babi ...
(650 - 1250) : *''She'iltoth of Acha'i aon' *'' Halachot Gedolot'' *'' Halachot Pesukot'', by Rav Yehudai Gaon *'' Emunoth ve-Deoth'' ( Saadia Gaon) *The '' Siddur'' by Amram Gaon * Responsa


Works of the ''Rishonim'' (the "early" rabbinical commentators)

The
Rishonim ''Rishonim'' (; he, ; sing. he, , ''Rishon'', "the first ones") were the leading rabbis and ''posek, poskim'' who lived approximately during the 11th to 15th centuries, in the era before the writing of the ''Shulchan Aruch'' ( he, , "Set Tab ...
are the rabbis of the early medieval period (1000 - 1550) *The commentaries on the Torah, such as those by
Rashi Shlomo Yitzchaki ( he, רבי שלמה יצחקי; la, Salomon Isaacides; french: Salomon de Troyes, 22 February 1040 – 13 July 1105), today generally known by the acronym Rashi (see #Name, below), was a France in the Middle Ages, medieval Fr ...
, Abraham ibn Ezra and Nahmanides. *Commentaries on the Talmud, principally by
Rashi Shlomo Yitzchaki ( he, רבי שלמה יצחקי; la, Salomon Isaacides; french: Salomon de Troyes, 22 February 1040 – 13 July 1105), today generally known by the acronym Rashi (see #Name, below), was a France in the Middle Ages, medieval Fr ...
, his grandson Samuel ben Meir and Nissim of Gerona. *Commentaries on the
Mishnah The Mishnah or the Mishna (; he, מִשְׁנָה, "study by repetition", from the verb ''shanah'' , or "to study and review", also "secondary") is the first major written collection of the Jewish oral traditions which is known as the Oral Tor ...
, such as those composed by
Maimonides Musa ibn Maimon (1138–1204), commonly known as Maimonides (); la, Moses Maimonides and also referred to by the acronym Rambam ( he, רמב״ם), was a Sephardi Jews, Sephardic Jewish Jewish philosophy, philosopher who became one of the mos ...
, Obadiah of Bertinoro, and Nathan ben Abraham *Talmudic novellae ('' chiddushim'') by Tosafists, Nahmanides, Nissim of Gerona, Solomon ben Aderet (RaShBA), Yomtov ben Ashbili (Ritva) *Works of ''
halakha ''Halakha'' (; he, הֲלָכָה, ), also Romanization of Hebrew, transliterated as ''halacha'', ''halakhah'', and ''halocho'' ( ), is the collective body of Judaism, Jewish religious laws which is derived from the Torah, written and Oral Tora ...
'' ( Asher ben Yechiel, Mordechai ben Hillel) *Codices by
Maimonides Musa ibn Maimon (1138–1204), commonly known as Maimonides (); la, Moses Maimonides and also referred to by the acronym Rambam ( he, רמב״ם), was a Sephardi Jews, Sephardic Jewish Jewish philosophy, philosopher who became one of the mos ...
and Jacob ben Asher, and finally '' Shulkhan Arukh'' * Responsa, e.g. by Solomon ben Aderet (RaShBA) * Kabbalistic works (such as the
Zohar The ''Zohar'' ( he, , ''Zōhar'', lit. "Splendor" or "Radiance") is a foundational work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbalah. It is a group of books including commentary on the mystical aspects of the Torah (the fiv ...
) *Philosophical works (
Maimonides Musa ibn Maimon (1138–1204), commonly known as Maimonides (); la, Moses Maimonides and also referred to by the acronym Rambam ( he, רמב״ם), was a Sephardi Jews, Sephardic Jewish Jewish philosophy, philosopher who became one of the mos ...
, Gersonides, Nahmanides) *Ethical works ( Bahya ibn Paquda, Jonah of Gerona)


Works of the ''Acharonim'' (the "later" rabbinical commentators)

The
Acharonim In Jewish law and history, ''Acharonim'' (; he, אחרונים ''Aḥaronim''; sing. , ''Aḥaron''; lit. "last ones") are the leading rabbis and poskim (Jewish legal decisors) living from roughly the 16th century to the present, and more speci ...
are the rabbis from 1550 to the present day. *Important Torah commentaries include ''Keli Yakar'' ( Shlomo Ephraim Luntschitz), ''Ohr ha-Chayim'' by Chayim ben-Attar, the commentary of Samson Raphael Hirsch, and the commentary of Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin. *Important works of Talmudic novellae include: '' Pnei Yehoshua'', ''Hafla'ah'', ''Sha'agath Aryei'' *Responsa, e.g. by Moses Sofer, Moshe Feinstein *Works of ''
halakha ''Halakha'' (; he, הֲלָכָה, ), also Romanization of Hebrew, transliterated as ''halacha'', ''halakhah'', and ''halocho'' ( ), is the collective body of Judaism, Jewish religious laws which is derived from the Torah, written and Oral Tora ...
'' and codices e.g. '' Mishnah Berurah'' by Yisrael Meir Kagan and the '' Aruch ha-Shulchan'' by
Yechiel Michel Epstein Yechiel Michel ha-Levi Epstein ( he, יחיאל מיכל הלוי אפשטיין) (24 January 1829 – 25 March 1908), often called "the ''Aruch haShulchan''" after his magnum opus, Aruch HaShulchan, was a Rabbi and ''Posek'' (authority in hala ...
*Ethical and philosophical works: Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, Yisrael Meir Kagan and the Mussar Movement * Hasidic works (''Kedushath Levi'', ''Sefath Emmeth'', ''Shem mi-Shemuel'') *Philosophical/metaphysical works (the works of the
Maharal of Prague Judah Loew ben Bezalel (; between 1512 and 1526 – 17 September 1609), also known as Rabbi Loew ( Löw, Loewe, Löwe or Levai), the Maharal of Prague (), or simply the Maharal (the Hebrew language, Hebrew Hebrew abbreviations, acronym of "''Morei ...
, Moshe Chaim Luzzatto and ''Nefesh ha-Chayim'' by Chaim of Volozhin) *Mystical works *Historical works, e.g. ''Shem ha-Gedolim'' by Chaim Joseph David Azulai.


Meforshim

''Meforshim'' is a
Hebrew Hebrew (; ; ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-surviving descendants, ...
word meaning "commentators" (or roughly meaning " exegetes"), ''Perushim'' means "commentaries". In
Judaism Judaism ( he, ''Yahăḏūṯ'') is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots ...
these words refer to commentaries on the Torah (five books of Moses),
Tanakh The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
'' Mishnah The Mishnah or the Mishna (; he, מִשְׁנָה, "study by repetition", from the verb ''shanah'' , or "to study and review", also "secondary") is the first major written collection of the Jewish oral traditions which is known as the Oral Tor ...
,
Talmud The Talmud (; he, , Talmūḏ) is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the Talmud was the center ...
, the responsa literature, or even the siddur (Jewish prayerbook), and more.


Classic Torah and Talmud commentaries

Classic Torah and/or Talmud commentaries have been written by the following individuals: * Geonim ** Saadia Gaon, 10th century Babylon *
Rishonim ''Rishonim'' (; he, ; sing. he, , ''Rishon'', "the first ones") were the leading rabbis and ''posek, poskim'' who lived approximately during the 11th to 15th centuries, in the era before the writing of the ''Shulchan Aruch'' ( he, , "Set Tab ...
**
Rashi Shlomo Yitzchaki ( he, רבי שלמה יצחקי; la, Salomon Isaacides; french: Salomon de Troyes, 22 February 1040 – 13 July 1105), today generally known by the acronym Rashi (see #Name, below), was a France in the Middle Ages, medieval Fr ...
(Shlomo Yitzchaki), 12th century France ** Abraham ibn Ezra ** Nachmanides (Moshe ben Nahman) ** Samuel ben Meir, the Rashbam, 12th century France ** Gersonides, also known as Levi ben Gershom or Ralbag) ** David Kimhi, the Radak, 13th century France ** Joseph ben Isaac Bekhor Shor, 12th century France ** Nissim of Gerona, also known as Nissim ben Reuben Gerondi, or the RaN, 14th century Spain ** Isaac Abarbanel (1437–1508) ** Obadiah ben Jacob Sforno, 16th century Italy *
Acharonim In Jewish law and history, ''Acharonim'' (; he, אחרונים ''Aḥaronim''; sing. , ''Aḥaron''; lit. "last ones") are the leading rabbis and poskim (Jewish legal decisors) living from roughly the 16th century to the present, and more speci ...
** The Vilna Gaon, also known as Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, 18th century Lithuania ** The Malbim, Meir Leibush ben Yehiel Michel Wisser Classical Talmudic commentaries were written by Rashi. After Rashi the
Tosafot The Tosafot, Tosafos or Tosfot ( he, תוספות) are medieval In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the post-classical period of ...
were written, which was an omnibus commentary on the Talmud by the disciples and descendants of Rashi; this commentary was based on discussions done in the rabbinic academies of Germany and France.


Modern Torah commentaries

Modern Torah commentaries which have received wide acclaim in the Jewish community include: *''Haemek Davar'' by Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin *The Chofetz Chaim *''Torah Temimah'' of Baruch ha-Levi Epstein *''Kerem HaTzvi'', by Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Ferber *''Sefat Emet'' (Lips of Truth), Yehudah Aryeh Leib of Ger, 19th century Europe *The "Pentateuch and Haftaras" by Joseph H. Hertz * ''Uebersetzung und Erklärung des Pentateuchs'' ("Translation and Commentary of the Pentateuch") by Samson Raphael Hirsch * Nechama Leibowitz, a noted woman scholar * ''HaTorah vehaMitzva'' ("The Torah and the Commandment") by Meïr Leibush, the " Malbim" *''Ha-Ketav veha-Kabbalah'' by Rabbi Yaakov Tzvi Mecklenburg *The Soncino Books of the Bible *Richard Elliot Friedman's ''Commentary on the Torah'' (2001)


Modern Siddur commentaries

Modern Siddur commentaries have been written by: *Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan HaCohen, ''The Chofetz Chaim's Siddur'' * Samson Raphael Hirsch, ''The Hirsch Siddur'', Feldheim * Abraham Isaac Kook, ''Olat Reyia'' *The Authorised Daily Prayer Book with commentary by Joseph H. Hertz * Elie Munk, ''The World of Prayer'', Elie Munk * Nosson Scherman, ''The Artscroll Siddur'', Mesorah Publications * Jonathan Sacks, in the '' Authorised Daily Prayer Book of the British Commonwealth'' (the new version of " Singer's Prayer Book") as well as the Koren Sacks Siddur. * Reuven Hammer, ''Or Hadash'', a siddur commentary built around the text of Siddur Sim Shalom, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism *''My Peoples Prayer Book'', Jewish Lights Publishing, written by a team of non-Orthodox rabbis and Talmud scholars.


See also

*
Jewish commentaries on the Bible Jewish commentaries on the Bible are List of biblical commentaries, biblical commentaries of the Hebrew Bible (the Tanakh) from a Jewish perspective. Translations into Aramaic language, Aramaic and English, and some universally accepted Jewish comm ...
* Judaism #Jewish religious texts * List of Jewish prayers and blessings * List of rabbis * Rabbinic Judaism * Torah databases (electronic versions of traditional Jewish texts) * Yeshiva #Curriculum


Biblical figures in rabbinic literature

* Adam in rabbinic literature * Daniel in rabbinic literature * Esther in rabbinic literature * Ezra in rabbinic literature * Haman in rabbinic literature * Jethro in rabbinic literature * Joab in rabbinic literature * Job in rabbinic literature * Moses in rabbinic literature * Noah in rabbinic literature * Samson in rabbinic literature * Simeon in rabbinic literature


Bibliography

*''Back to the Sources: Reading the Classic Jewish Texts'', Barry W. Holtz, (Summit Books) *''Introduction to Rabbinic Literature'' Jacob Neusner, (Anchor Bible Reference Library/Doubleday) *''Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash'', H. L. Strack and G. Stemberger, (Fortress Press) *''The Literature of the Sages: Oral Torah, Halakha, Mishnah, Tosefta, Talmud, External Tractates,'' Shemuel Safrai and Peter J. Tomson (Fortress, 1987)


External links


General


A survey of rabbinic literatureComprehensive listing by category - Global Jewish DatabaseOnline Resources for the Study of Rabbinic Literature


Links to full text resources


The Sefaria LibraryMechon MamreSages of Ashkenaz DatabaseThe Electronic Torah Warehousehebrewbooks.orgseforimonline.org


Glossaries


Sources@JTS
{{Authority control Ancient Hebrew texts Chazal