On January 21st 2011, the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, the MIUR (Ministry of Education, Universities and Research), the CNR (National Research Council) and the UCEI (Union of Italian Jewish Communities) signed a protocol agreement to develop the Italian Translation Project of the Babylonian Talmud.

At the same time, the CNR and the UCEI – CRI (Italian Rabbinical College) started the limited Consortium Company P.T.T.B. S.c.ar.l., as partners with equal share.

Board of Directors P.T.T.B. S.c.a.r.l

Chairman: Riccardo Shemuel Di Segni
Director: Clelia Piperno
Board Members: Alessandro Finazzi Agrò, Mario Patrono

Coordination Committee

President: Riccardo Shemuel Di Segni
Members: Anna Nardini,  Alessio Gorla, Vincenzo Di Felice, Fiamma Nirenstein, Cinzia Caporale, Evelina Milella, Anselmo Calò

Honors Committee

President: Gianni Letta
Members: Antonio Catricalà, Rav Adin Even Israel Steinsaltz, Ministro M.I.U.R., Presidente C.N.R., Presidente U.C.E.I., Alberto Melloni – Giulio Terzi

Scientific Committee

President: Andrea Bozzi
Members: Tito Orlandi, Nicoletta Maraschio, Marco Mancini, Giacomo Ferrari, Oliviero Stock, Abramo Piattelli, Giacomo Saban

Staff PTTB

Translation Coordinator: Gianfranco Di Segni
Project Manager: Gadi Piperno
Editor in Chief: Sandro Servi
Graphic Designer: David Piazza
Web Manager: Michael Dollinar
Senior Operation Engineering: David Dattilo
Administrators: Ornella Gargano
Technical Advisor: Ishai Richetti

OUR NUMBERS

5422
Pages

55
Translators and Reviewers

15
Editors

7
IT Technicians

4
Scientists

2
Accountants

Mishnà e Ghemarà

The Talmud is basically a collection in writing of rabbinic speeches held by Scholars debating the rules of the Mishnah; it consists of two parts: the Mishnah, divided into articles, and the Gemara, which contains the academic commentary and discourse on each article, often expressed through a tosefta or a baraita.
The authors of the Gemara included and organized the traditions of the different Schools that analyzed and commented the Mishnah in order to explain its instructions: sources, reasons, the meaning of the words, the discussion order, the correct version, general rules deduced from case to case; the Scholars compared the Mishnah with the tannaitic traditions not included in the Mishnah, in order to solve the contradictions arising between the sources and the different interpretations given; they debated new cases to define the rule.

Logics and reasoning

The methods used to study the texts and compare the sources share a common structure (with a specific dictionary of expressions) based on questions and answers, objections and rebuttals, often connected and articulated.
The discussion extends to different fields, at times far from the original topic, supported by different mechanisms of free association and analogy.

Teaching and narration

The Haggadah defines a part of the “extents” that has no strict legal implications, a field concerning the biblical exegesis, the narrations, the moral teaching and the education to good behavior.
Thus the Talmud, in spite of its peculiar logics and organization, ends up including a significant part of the cultural heritage of ancient hebraism.

The relevance of the commentaries

It is virtually impossible to study such a complex text without the support of guidelines and commentaries. In the centuries following the writing of the Talmud, the students needed a Scholar to understand the text. From the early second millennium, the interpretative tradition started to be consolidated.
Remarkable is the work carried out by rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (Rashi of Troyes) at the end of the XI century, illustrating the text methodically, page after page. Rashi didn’t comment only a few parts, as the missing work was eventually completed by his nephew, rabbi Shmuel ben Meir (Rashbam). Since then, every single edition of the Talmud included the commentaries by Rashi.
After Rashi, the Schools where his descendants, relatives and pupils were teaching, committed to complete the text adding commentaries (Tosafot, lit “addition”). Today, his commentaries and analysis of the Tosafot are necessary when studying the Talmud. In addition to his work, each century has witnessed the writing of research and analysis of the Talmud.

The Talmud is not a rigid, “monolithic” work, but a vast collection of rabbinic speeches held by Scholars of different generations, who lived between approximately the III and V-VI century CE. It is the “recording” in writing of the discussions of academics debating the original meaning of the biblical instructions and how these could be actually applied to life.

In this outstanding work, written fifteen centuries ago, the discussion takes place by means of questions and answers, objections and attempts to debate and solve the complexity of life. However, the questions posed do not always receive fully satisfying answers; as much often, the answers prove to be less important than the questions posed. Certain discussions are left open for future clarification, postponed to the Messianic Age. Also, certain opinions debated in the Talmud eventually end up being rejected, because any objection raising a question has the potential ability to make the final decision more valuable and solid.

Genesis of the Talmud

In late Common Era second century, with the loss of Hebraic political independence and the consequent Jewish diaspora, the rabbinic sages (back then known as Tannaim) sensed the risk of loosing their heritage of traditions, built up for centuries, and decided to record in writings all they had collected, resulting in the Mishnah, the first central text of Hebraic tradition.

However, a lot of information was left out the Mishnah: part of it was eventually collected in the Tosefta (lit “addition”), a parallel work to the Mishnah, whilst another part kept circulating within Hebraic schools. What was left out the two major texts is called “baraita” (“bar” meaning “external, outside”).
The Mishnah was completed and became the most influential text within schools. However, the activity of study and research continued for centuries and led to the creation of the Talmud.

The Babylonian Talmud contains texts of different origins and it’s mainly based on two languages: all biblical quotations (except for those originally in Aramaic) and the literature of the Tannaic period were written in Hebraic; all the Amoraic debates and narrations were written in Aramaic.
Aramaic and its many dialects were popular in the Near East (Aramaic is currently spoken in certain regions).
The Aramaic language used in the Babylonian Talmud is a form of eastern dialect, similar to the Mandaic and the eastern Syriac. Its original pronunciation is uncertain and still today is considered an unresolved issue.
When studying the Talmud, the Jewish communities have developed different reading methods, which quite often controvert the grammatical studies but are still accepted as heritage shared by the single communities.
The Talmud, like many other texts of the post-biblical period, is not vocalized, which makes it difficult to read and understand. Also, the punctuation is almost completely missing, it is hard to detect the boundaries of each sentence and whether each phrase is interrogative, affirmative or exclamatory.
That’s why for the Project we are using the vocalized punctuated text curated by Rav Adin Steinsaltz, in order to make the translation easier to comprehend.

Babylonian Talmud and Jerusalem Talmud

There are two distinctive editions of the Talmud, resulting from the outstanding work done by the research centers in the Land of Israel and Babylon.
The Talmud Yerushalmi is the result of the work done within the Yeshivas (schools) in the Land of Israel, in the IV century, whilst the Babylonian Talmud (Bavli) was produced in the Babylonian Yeshivas and edited in the V-VI century.
The Babylonian version, more extended and recent compared to the other version, is considered the most influential and widely popular by modern Yeshivas across the globe.

That explains why the Babylonian Talmud, not the Jerusalem Talmud, is being translated in Italian.

The Talmud editions

Being a central text in the Jewish culture and tradition, the Babylonian Talmud has been subjected to accurate control. Many influential researchers are taking part in the project to correct the available versions; the revision work is still taking place.

Sadly, the history of the Talmud has been marked by a significantly negative factor: the persecution of this text led to censorship, requisitions and burnings (widely known the ones in Paris, 1240, and Rome, 1553) and its study was prohibited. Consequently, the medieval manuscripts and the first paper editions are rare and subjected to heavy censor cuts.

The first printed editions marked a significant change in the history of the text. After the first tests in Guadalajara in 1482, followed by a few volumes in Soncino, Italy, Daniel Bomberg’s first complete edition (Venice, 1519-1523) and the one of his competitor Marcantonio Giustinian became the texts of reference for all the following editions, until the Romm di Vilna’s edition (1886) became widely popular among traditional researchers.

Our edition

Our edition includes the original pages and front translation. The original text has been recently elaborated according to the classical structure, and the most remarkable difference consists of the words vocalized.

Introductions, titles and partition of the text for improved reading

The Talmud is written in a concise, essential language, at times even cryptic. For our edition, we are translating in bold all the words that appear explicitly in the text, adding the integrations in standard characters, so that the reader can easily distinguish the words found in the original text from the ones we added. The footnotes flagged by superscripted numbers provide further information and clarifications. The original text is continuous, only interrupted by the titles of each chapter and the mishnayots (each followed – without paragraph signs – by the comment of the Gemara); our edition instead, features a system of titles and partitions specifically introduced to support the reading.
Besides the Introduction to the tractate, each chapter features an introductory summary and also the mishnayots might be introduced by short information.

The graphic project for the volume cover

The graphic project for the cover has been entrusted to the designer Ada Rothenberg, who has produced a typographic design that renovates the image of this Work while maintaining the classic elegance of ancient texts. Rothenberg has designed six covers, one for each order. In the background of each cover, the Hebraic initial letter of each order, surrounded by soft shades of bright colors. A graphic solution to make the Talmud perceived as familiar, close to us.

The Rosh haShanah tractate is published by La Giuntina

The publishing house Giuntina was established in 1980, when Daniel Vogelmann decided to publish Night, by Ellie Wiesel; this book becomes the first of the series “Schulim Vogelmann”, dedicated by Daniel to his father, a survivor of Auschwitz.

Giuntina’s catalogue numbers seven series and over 700 books; each publication is the key to explore the Jewish history and culture. The books published by Giuntina are all based on topics related to Hebraism; however, these are all works of universal value, capable of stimulating interest and enriching the reading experience of anyone.