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Gemarah

GEMARAH

The discussion of the Jewish legal opus, the mishnah, with which it forms the talmud. The term is from the Aramaic word ge mārā, meaning completion, but it is used also in the derived senses of tradition, study, or even Talmud. In the technical sense the Gemarah is a commentary on the Mishnah. In it the rabbis known as Amoraim (plural of the Hebrew-Aramaic word 'ămôrâ', speaker, lecturer) seek to interpret the teachings of the earlier rabbis, the Tannaim (plural of the Aramaic word tannā', repeater, recounter), that are recorded in the Mishnah and to reconcile them with the Baraitot (plural of the Aramaic word baraitā, external thing), the Tannaitic teachings that are not recorded in the Mishnah but are often held as equally authoritative. There are two Gemarahs (and therefore two Talmuds): the Palestinian, composed between a.d. 200 and 400 and written in western Aramaic, and the Babylonian, completed c. a.d. 500 and written in eastern Aramaic; both, however, are interspersed with Hebrew. The Babylonian is the larger work and is held by Judaism as the more authoritative. About a third of it consists of haggadah (homiletic and folkloristic material), and the remainder of halakah (legal exposition).

For bibliography, see talmud.

[r. krinsky]

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