—— Tannaitic ——
—— Amoraic (Gemara) ——
—— Later ——
—— Exodus ——
Mekhilta of Rabbi Ishmael
Mekhilta of Rabbi Shimon
Mekhilta of Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai
Sifra (Torat Kohanim)
—— Numbers and Deuteronomy ——
Sifrei Zutta on Numbers
(Mekhilta le-Sefer Devarim)
—— Tannaitic ——
Seder Olam Rabbah
Alphabet of Rabbi Akiva
Baraita of the Forty-nine Rules
Baraita on the Thirty-two Rules
Baraita on the Erection of the Tabernacle
—— 400–600 ——
Pesikta de-Rav Kahana
Seder Olam Zutta
—— 650–900 ——
Avot of Rabbi Natan
Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer
Tanna Devei Eliyahu
Alphabet of Sirach
Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah
Baraita of Samuel
—— 900–1000 ——
Shir ha-Shirim Zutta
—— 1000–1200 ——
—— Later ——
Machir ben Abba Mari
Targum to the Five Megillot
Targum Sheni to Esther
Targum to Chronicles
Sifra (Aramaic: סִפְרָא) is the
Halakhic midrash to Leviticus.
It is frequently quoted in the Talmud, and the study of it followed
that of the Mishnah, as appears from Tanḥuma, quoted in Or Zarua, i.
Leviticus itself, the midrash is occasionally called "Torat
Cant. R. vi. 8), and in two passages
Sifra debe Rab" (Ber. 11b, 18b). According to Leḳaḥ Ṭob
(section צו), this latter title was applied originally to the third
book of the
Leviticus was the first book studied in
the elementary school, and it was subsequently extended to the
midrash; but this explanation is contradicted by analogous expressions
such as "
Sifre debe Rab" and, in a broader sense, "ketubot debe Rab"
Ket. 26c) and "teḳi'ata debe Rab" (
Ab. Zarah 39c).
3 Additions by R. Ishmael's School
4 The Present Text
6 External links
It is true, Maimonides, in the introduction to his Yad ha-Ḥazaḳah,
and others, quoted by Friedmann, in the introduction to his edition of
Mekilta (p. xxvi., Vienna, 1870), have declared that the title
Sifra debe Rab" indicates Rab as the author of the Sifra; and this
opinion I.H. Weiss, in the introduction to his
Sifra edition (p. iv.),
attempts to support. His proofs are not conclusive, however; neither,
it must be confessed, are the opposing arguments of Friedmann (l.c.
pp. xvi. et seq.), who tries to show that the expression "
Rab" does not refer to the midrash under discussion.
The question as to authorship has been correctly answered by Malbim,
who proves in the introduction to his
Sifra edition that R. Ḥiyya
was the redactor of the Sifra. There are no less than 39 passages in
Yerushalmi and the midrashim in which expositions found also in the
Sifra are quoted in the name of
R. Ḥiyya (comp. the list in D.
Hoffmann, Zur Einleitung die Halachischen Midraschim, p. 22, to
Shab. 2d and
Ket. 28d must be added, according to Levy in
Ein Wort, etc., p. 1, note 1); and the fact that no tannaim
Rebbi are mentioned in the
Sifra supports the view that
the book was composed during the time of that scholar. The omission
Sifra of some interpretations of
Leviticus which are
elsewhere quoted in the name of
R. Ḥiyya cannot be taken as proving
the contrary (comp. the list in Hoffmann, l.c. p. 24, and Yoma
Ḥullin 141b; Levy, l.c.); nor does the fact that Ḥiyya himself
is mentioned in the
Sifra offer any difficulty. Indeed, as Hoffmann
shows (l.c. p. 25), in the three passages in which it can with
certainty be said that the reference is to R. Ḥiyya, namely,
Wayiḳra, Nedabah, v. 5, vi. 3, and Meẓora', ii. 10, Ḥiyya
himself, in referring to preceding interpretations, indicates that he
is the editor.
It is perhaps doubtful whether Hoffmann is correct in comparing the
above-mentioned passages, or the final remark of R. Joshua in
Ḳinnim, with Middot ii. 5. But even if Hoffmann's view does not seem
acceptable, it is not necessary to infer that Rab was the editor of
the Sifra; for he may merely have added the passages in question, just
as he seems to have made an addition to
Sifra xii. 2, following Niddah
24b (comp. Weiss in
Sifra ad. loc.; also
A. Epstein [Mi-Ḳadmoniyyot
ha-Yehudim, p. 53, note 1], who holds that in some passages Rab
is meant by aḥerim = "others [say]", and by we-yesh omerim = "there
are those who say"). Nor is Ḥiyya's authorship controverted by
various contradictions presented by individual passages in the Sifra
as compared with the Tosefta, which latter also is ascribed to him;
e.g., Sifra, Ḳedoshim, vi. 8, compared with Tosef.,
Mak. iv. 14 (see
If it be assumed that Ḥiyya is the author, the title "
Rab" is to be explained as indicating that
Sifra was among the
midrashim which were accepted by Rab's school and which thereby came
into general use. The name is differently explained by Hoffmann (l.c.
pp. 12 et seq.), who, on the basis of
Ḥullin 66a and in
Rashi ad loc., takes "be Rab" to mean "school" in
general, and who accordingly differentiates between "Tanna debe Rab"
and "Tanna debe R. Ishmael," i.e., between the midrashim of R. Akiva's
school, which, being decisive for the Halakah, were generally studied,
and those of R. Ishmael's school, which were not intended for general
use, though they were studied by some and were consulted occasionally,
as was the case with other midrash collections which are quoted only
rarely. Hoffmann himself admits, however, that the expression "de-bet
Rab" in Yerushalmi certainly indicates Rab's school; so that it is in
any case doubtful whether a different usage is to be assumed in the
case of the Babylonian Talmud.
As regards the sources of Sifra, it is said in the well-known passage
Sanh. 86a (which must be compared with Er. 96b and the parallel
passages mentioned there), "Setam
Sifra R. Yehudah" (= "An anonymous
Sifra is Rabbi Yehudah"). That the
Sifra belongs to R. Akiva's school,
as the above-mentioned passage in Sanhedrin indicates, is shown by the
principles of exposition contained in the Sifra; e.g., that where the
same expression occurs in two different laws the phrase need not be
"mufneh" (pleonastic) in one of them in order to permit of its being
used for "gezerah shawah" (argument from analogy); the double use of
the expression being explained in accordance with the principles of
"ribbui u-mi'uṭ" and "kelal uperaṭ." Certain peculiarities of
phraseology are likewise noteworthy: יכול replaces שומע אני
or אקרא, the phrases usually found in the
Mekilta (once, in Sanh.
4b, a passage beginning אקרא אני is cited as coming from the
Sifra, while as a matter of fact the
Sifra [Tazria', ii. 2] has
יכול); comp. further הא כיצד, וכי איזה מדה
מרובה, ואם נפשך לומר, וכי מאין יצאת
מכלל שנאמר, וכי מאין באת; and for further details
see D. Hoffmann, l.c. p. 31.
Traces of R. Judah's influence are less evident. The fact that the
views expressed in some "seṭamot" may be proved to agree with R.
Judah's views has little significance; e.g., Sifra, Aḥare, 5,
beginning, compared with
Menahot 27b; ib. Ḳedoshim, viii. 1, with
Yeb. 46a (where
R. Simeon furthermore seems to have read ר"י in the
Sifre) and Ḳedoshim, vii. 3, with Tosef.,
Ḳid. i. 4. Such
seṭamot may be opposed by others that contradict R. Judah's views;
e.g., Sifra, Neg. ii. 1, compared with
R. Judah in Neg. ii. 1; Sifra,
Neg. x. 8, compared with R. Judah, Neg. x. 10; comp. also
28b, s.v. הא מזכר.
All this, however, is no reason for attacking the above-mentioned
assumption that the
Sifra in its principal parts is a midrash of R.
D. Hoffmann remarks (l.c. p. 26) not incorrectly that
Sifra, Nedabah, iv. 12 agrees with the views of
R. Eliezer (Menahot
26a), whose decision
R. Judah frequently accepts as handed down by his
own father, R. Ila'i, a pupil of
R. Eliezer (comp.
Menahot 18a and
Yoma 39a et passim). Similarly, Sifra, Emor, xvii. 4 et seq. agrees
with R. Eliezer's view (
Suk. 43a). Aside from R. Judah's midrash, R.
Ḥiyya may have used also R. Simeon's midrash (comp. Hoffmann, l.c.
p. 27), although some of the passages mentioned there (as, e.g.,
the comparison of Sifra, Nedabah, vi. 9 with Sifre,
Deut. 78; Sifra,
Nega'im, i. 9-10 with Sifre,
Deut. 218; Sifra, Beḥuḳḳotai, viii.
2 with Sifre,
Deut. 124) seem to prove little. More doubtful is the
relation to R. Ishmael's midrash; and in this connection must be
considered the question whether the citation of certain explanations
Leviticus introduced by the formula תנא דבי ר"י and
actually found in
Sifra is not in part due to confusion (comp.
Hoffmann, l.c.; Levy, l.c. p. 28, note 2, and the interesting
Azulai quoted there).
Additions by R. Ishmael's School
But to R. Ishmael's school undoubtedly belong the later additions to
"'Arayot," which, according to
Ḥag. i. 1 and
Yer. 1b, were not
publicly taught in R. Akiva's school; i.e., Aḥare, xiii. 3-15;
Ḳedoshim, ix. 1-7, xi. 14 (ed. I.H. Weiss), and finally, of course,
Baraita de-Rabbi Yishma'el
Baraita de-Rabbi Yishma'el (beginning). The so-called
Mekilta de-Millu'im" or "Aggadat Millu'im" to
Lev. viii. 1-10 is
similarly to be distinguished from the remainder of the Sifra. It
exists in two recensions, of which the second, covering mishnayot
14-16 and 29-end, is cited by
Rashi as "Baraita ha-Nosefet 'al Torat
Kohanim she-Lanu." The tannaim quoted most frequently in
Sifra are R.
Akiva and his pupils, also R. Eliezer, R. Ishmael, R. Jose ha-Gelili,
Rebbi, and less often R. Jose bar Judah, R. Eleazar bar R. Simeon, and
R. Simeon b. Eleazar.
The Present Text
Sifra was divided, according to an old arrangement, into 9
"dibburim" and 80 "parashiyyot" or smaller sections. As it exists
today it is divided into 14 larger sections and again into smaller
peraḳim, parashiyyot, and mishnayot. As the commentators point out,
it varies frequently from the
Sifra which the
Talmudic authors knew
(comp. Sifra, Emor, xiii. 1 and
Menahot 77b; Sifra, Ḳedoshim, ii. 5
Ḥul. 137a; Sifra, Ḥobah, xiii. 6 and
B. Ḳ. 104b);
furthermore, entire passages known to the authors of the Babylonian
Talmud, as, e.g.,
Yoma 41a, are missing in the present Sifra, and, on
the other hand, there are probably passages in the present
were not known to the Babylonian
Talmud (comp. D. Hoffmann, l.c.
pp. 33, 35).
Sifra frequently agrees with the Judean rather than with the
Babylonian tradition; e.g., Sifra, Nedabah, xii. 2 (comp. Menahot
57b); ib. xiv. 6 (comp.
Ḥul. 49b); Sifra, Emor, ix. 8 (comp. Ḥul.
101b); and Tosef.,
Sheḳ. i. 7 likewise agrees with the Sifra. In the
few cases where the agreement is with the Babylonian
Emor, vii. 2 as compared with
Menahot 73b; similarly Tosef.,
16) it must not be assumed that the text of the
Sifra was emended in
agreement with the Babylonian Talmud, but that it represents the
original version; e.g., in Sifra, Ḳedoshim, viii. 1 מאתכם is
not a later emendation for מאתן according to
Yeb. 47a, as I.H.
Weiss (ad loc.) assumes, but represents rather the original reading.
The Babylonian Talmud, as compared with Yerushalmi, cites
accurately, sometimes abbreviating and sometimes amplifying it; e.g.,
Ḳid. 57b, which is the amplification of Sifra, Nedabah, xvii. 8;
Sheb. 26b, which is a shortened (and therefore unintelligible) version
of Sifra, Ḥobah, ix. 2; and
Zeb. 93b, which is to be compared with
Sifra, Ẓaw, vi. 6. The Babylonian
Talmud occasionally makes use, in
reference to the Sifra, of the rule "mi she-shanah zu lo shanah zu"
(i.e., the assigning of different parts of one halakah to different
authorities), as in
Soṭah 16a, but unnecessarily, since
it is possible to harmonize the apparently conflicting sentences and
thereby show that they may be assigned to the same authority.
Many errors have crept into the text through the practice of repeating
one and the same midrash in similar passages; e.g.,
Sifra to v. 3 and
xxii. 5 (comp. Weiss, Einleitung, etc., p. v., note 1, though the
passage quoted by Weiss does not belong here; comp.
לשנא אחרינא is found in Sifra, Nega'im, ii. 10.
Sifra is usually still cited according to the Weiss edition of
The editions of the
Sifra are as follows: Venice, 1545; with
commentary by RABaD, Constantinople, 1552; with Ḳorban Aharon,
Venice, 1609; with the same commentary, Dessau, 1742; with commentary
by J.L. Rapoport, Wilna, 1845; with commentary by Judah Jehiel,
Lemberg, 1848; with commentary by
Malbim (Meir Loeb b. Yehiel
Michael), Bucharest, 1860; with commentary by RABaD and Massoret
Talmud by I. H. Weiss, Vienna, 1862 (Reprint New York: Om
Publishing Company 1946); with commentary by
Samson of Sens and notes
by MaHRID, Warsaw, 1866. A Latin translation is given in Biagio
Ugolini, Thesaurus, xiv.
Other editions include:
Sifra d'vei rav. Edited by Meir Friedmann (Meir Ish Shalom). Breslau
Sifra or Torat Kohanim. Edited by Finkelstein, Louis and Morris Lutzki
. New York: JTS, 1956. (Facsimile edition of Codex Assemani 66 of the
Leviticus I-V. Edited by Louis Finkelstein. New York: JTS
Sifra: An Analytical Translation I-III. Translated by Jacob Neusner.
Atlanta: Scholars Press 1988.
Sifra on Leviticus, with traditional commentaries and variant
readings. Edited by Abraham Shoshanah. Cleveland and Jerusalem 1991
Sifra Hebrew Text
Sifra English translation and original text
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m One or more of the preceding
sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public
domain: Bacher, Wilhelm; Horovitz, S. (1901–1906). "SIFRA". In
Singer, Isidore; et al. Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk &
Wagnalls Company. Retrieved Jan 17, 2017.
Jewish Encyclopedia bibliography:
A. Epstein, Mi-Ḳadmoniyyot ha-Yehudim, pp. 50–56;
Z. Frankel, Darke ha-Mishnah, pp. 307 et seq.;
idem, in Monatsschrift, 1854, pp. 387–397, 453-461;
A. Geiger, Jüd. Zeit. xi. 50-60;
D. Hoffmann, Zur Einleitung in die Halachischen Midraschim,
pp. 20 et seq.;
Joël, Notizen zum Buche Daniel: Etwas über die Bücher
Sifre, Breslau, 1873;
I.H. Weiss, Gesch. der Jüdischen Tradition, ii. 231 et seq.;
Zunz, G. V. pp. 49 et seq.
^ Ezriel Hildesheimer, Sefer Halakhot Gedolot, vol. 3, chapter
Halakhot Mishmarot, Jerusalem 1987, p. 377 (Hebrew); cf. Midrash Rabba
(Numbers Rabba 18:17)
^ Weiss, Isaac H., ed. (1862).
Sifra D'vei Rav. Wien. Retrieved J