December 7, 2023
December 7, 2023

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From Teverya to Today: The Journey of Talmud Yerushalmi

Brand-new exclusive presentation celebrates completion of the Schottenstein Edition of the Talmud Yerushalmi in English.

(Artscroll) The Mesorah Heritage Foundation is celebrating the completion of the Schottenstein Edition of the Talmud Yerushalmi in English, a truly historic accomplishment in the Jewish world.

Talmud Yerushalmi is exceedingly difficult, and despite its great significance it has been a closed book to all but select, elite scholars—until now.

Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz, zt”l, legendary founder of ArtScroll/Mesorah, remarked that, in his view, “history will show that the crown jewel of our accomplishments will be our opening the Talmud Yerushalmi to all of klal Yisrael.”

Talmud Yerushalmi is the source for countless halachos. Classic Rishonim and Acharonim cite it extensively and comment on individual passages, but there is no definitive commentary on this Talmud. That is one major reason that this project, the Schottenstein Edition Talmud Yerushalmi, was so important to undertake, for it would unseal the gates of one of the most vital portions of the Oral Torah.

In addition, unlike the Babylonian Talmud, the Yerushalmi has Gemara on Seder Zeraim, the laws of agriculture, the mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz that apply uniquely to Eretz Yisrael and are applicable constantly. Thus, the teachings and rulings of Yerushalmi are part of the everyday fabric of life in the Land of Israel. As a result, the Seder Zeraim portion of this undertaking is essential to understand and clarify these laws.

After consultation with gedolei Yisrael in Israel and America, the elucidation of the Talmud Yerushalmi was undertaken thanks to the vision and generosity of Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein and their family, who recognized how important this project was. The Schottensteins were joined by other visionary dedicators who recognized the importance of this task. So it is that the historic 51-volume Schottenstein Edition of the Talmud Yerushalmi—a 16-year project—came about. The Jewish people will forever be enriched by this Torah masterpiece.

Now, in honor of this historic achievement, the Mesorah Heritage Foundation has released a brand-new video presentation titled “The World of Talmud Yerushalmi: The Journey of Talmud Yerushalmi from Teverya to Today.” This presentation, which was filmed in various cities on two continents, takes us through the history of Talmud Yerushalmi, from the very place where it was first written in Eretz Yisrael to the offices of the writers and editors who created this masterpiece and the factory where the volumes are produced. This documentary is as fascinating as it is important, telling the story of one of the most significant literary achievements in the Torah world in recent memory.

The video presentation can be viewed at Watch, be inspired, and gain an appreciation of this monumental accomplishment.

The ‘Talmud Yerushalmi Challenge’

In several important ways, Talmud Yerushalmi places greater demands upon the student than does Talmud Bavli. The text of the Yerushalmi is generally more terse than that of the Bavli, making it much more difficult to understand and distill the underlying logic and concepts of a given issue or dispute. To further complicate matters, the correct reading of many passages is open to question, and the printed texts are often clearly deficient.

The great commentators who illuminated the Talmud Bavli for us, and their hundreds and thousands of colleagues and disciples who joined them in poring over the texts, and in pouring their hearts and souls and genius into analyzing them, left us little written record of their understanding of Talmud Yerushalmi. No absence was more keenly felt than that of Rashi. It may perhaps be said that until one studies Yerushalmi, one cannot fully appreciate how masterful and indispensable Rashi’s commentary to Bavli truly is.

All of this and so much more were the challenges faced by the scholars of the Mesorah Heritage Foundation who undertook what many thought would never be possible.

And thankfully they did so, because the result is nothing short of breathtaking.

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