The Gemara (also transliterated Gemora or, less commonly, Gemorra) (from Aramaic גמרא "gamar"; literally, " [to] study" or "learning by tradition") is the part of the Talmud that contains rabbinical commentaries and analysis of the Mishnah. After the Mishnah was published by Rabbi Judah the Prince (c. 200 CE), the work was studied exhaustively by generation after generation of rabbis in Babylonia and the Land of Israel. Their discussions were written down in a series of books that became the Gemara, which when combined with the Mishnah constituted the Talmud.

There are two versions of the Gemara. One version was compiled by scholars of Israel, primarily of the academies of Tiberias and Caesarea, which was published between about 350-400 CE. The other version by scholars of Babylonia, primarily of the academies of Sura, Pumbedita, and Mata Mehasia, which was published about 500 CE. By convention, a reference to the "Gemara" or "Talmud," without further qualification, refers to the Babylonian version.

Gemara and Mishnah

The Gemara and the Mishnah together make up the Talmud. The Talmud thus comprises two components: the Mishnah - the core text; and the "Gemara" - analysis and commentary which “completes” the Talmud (see Structure of the Talmud).

In a narrower sense, the word "Gemara" refers to the mastery and transmission of existing tradition, as opposed to "sevara", which means the deriving of new results by logic. Both activities are represented in the "Gemara" as a literary work. The term "gemara" for the activity of study is far older than its use as a description of any text: thus Pirke Avot, a work long preceding the recording of the Talmud, recommends starting "Mishnah" at the age of 10 and "Gemara" at the age of 15.

The rabbis of the Mishnah are known as "Tannaim" (sing. "Tanna" תנא). The rabbis of the Gemara are referred to as "Amoraim" (sing. "Amora" אמורא).

The "Sugya"

The analysis of the "Amoraim" is generally focused on clarifying the positions, words and views of the "Tannaim". These debates and exchanges form the "building-blocks" of the gemara; the name for a passage of gemara is a "sugya" (סוגיא; plural "sugyot"). A "sugya" will typically comprise a detailed proof-based elaboration of the Mishna. Every aspect of the Mishnaic text is treated as a subject of close investigation. This analysis is aimed at an exhaustive understanding of the Mishna's full meaning.

In the Talmud, a "sugya" is presented as a series of responsive hypotheses and questions - with the Talmudic text as a record of each step in the process of reasoning and derivation. The Gemara thus takes the form of a dialectical exchange. (By contrast, the "Mishnah" states concluded legal opinions - and often differences in opinion between the Tannaim. There is little dialogue.) The disputants here are termed the "makshan" (questioner, "one who raises a difficulty") and "tartzan" (answerer, "one who puts straight").

The "gemara" records the semantic disagreements between "Tannaim" and "Amoraim". Some of these debates were actually conducted by the "Amoraim", though many of them are hypothetically reconstructed by the Talmud's redactors. (Often imputing a view to an earlier authority as to how he may have answered a question: "This is what Rabbi X could have argued...") Rarely are debates formally closed.

Argumentation and debate

The distinctive character of the "gemara" derives largely from the intricate use of argumentation and debate, described above. In each "sugya", either participant may cite scriptural, Mishnaic and Amoraic proof to build a logical support for their respective opinions. The process of deduction required to derive a conclusion from a prooftext is often logically complex and indirect. "Confronted with a statement on any subject, the Talmudic student will proceed to raise a series of questions before he satisfies himself of having understood its full meaning." [] . This analysis is often described as "mathematical" in approach; Adin Steinsaltz makes the analogy of the "Amoraim" as scientists investigating the Halakha, where the Tanakh, Mishnah, Tosefta and midrash are the phenomena studied.


Prooftexts quoted to corroborate or disprove the respective opinions and theories will include:
*verses from the Tanakh: the exact language employed is regarded as significant;
*other "mishnayot:" cross-references to analogous cases, or to parallel reasoning by the "Tanna" in question;
*"Beraitot" - non-mishnaic sources of halakha (lit. outside material; sing. beraita ברייתא);
**references to opinions and cases in the Tosefta (תוספתא);
**references to the Halakhic Midrash (Mekhilta, Sifra and Sifre);
*cross-references to other "sugyot": again to analogous cases or logic.

Questions addressed

The actual debate will usually centre on the following categories:


Why does the Mishna use one word rather than another? If a statement is not clear enough, the Gemara seeks to clarify the Mishna's intention.


Exploring the logical principles underlying the Mishnah's statements, and showing how different understandings of the Mishnah's reasons could lead to differences in their practical application. What underlying principle is entailed in a statement of fact or in a specific instance brought as an illustration? If a statement appears obvious, the Gemara seeks the logical reason for its necessity. It seeks to answer under which circumstances a statement is true, and what qualifications are permissible. All statements are examined for internal consistency.


Resolving contradictions, perceived or actual, between different statements in the Mishnah, or between the Mishnah and other traditions; e.g., by stating that: two conflicting sources are dealing with differing circumstances; or that they represent the views of different Rabbis. Do certain authorities differ or not? If they do, why do they differ? If a principle is presented as a generalization, the gemara clarifies how much is included; if an exception, how much is excluded.

Biblical exposition

Demonstrating how the Mishnah's rulings or disputes, derive from interpretations of Biblical texts. The Gemara will often ask where in the Torah the Mishnah derives a particular law. See The thirteen rules by which Jewish law was derived.

ee also

*Oral law in Judaism
*Jerusalem Talmud
*Daf Yomi
*The Kallah Month
*Siyum hashas -- Completion of the tractates

External links and references


* [ Gemara] ,
*Samuel ha-Nagid, " [ Mevo ha-Talmud] "
* [ Talmudic Method] , Harry Austryn Wolfson
* [ Gemara] , Prof. Eliezer Segal
*"Maimonides introduction to the Mishneh Torah" see [ English translation at Mechon-Mamre]
* Adin Steinsaltz, "The Essential Talmud: Thirtieth Anniversary Edition" (Basic Books, 2006). ISBN 0-465-08273-4. Read more [ here] . See also [ here] .
* Adin Steinsaltz, "The Talmud: A Reference Guide" (Random House, 1996). ISBN 0-679-77367-3. Read more [ here] .
*Adin Steinsaltz, "The Talmud", published by Random House
*"Introduction to The Talmud and Midrash" H.L. Strack and G. Stemberger, Fortress Press
*"The infinite chain : Torah, masorah, and man" Nathan T. Lopes Cardozo, Targum Press Distributed by Philipp Feldheim; 1989


* [ Point by point summary and discussion of the Gemara]
* [ Daf-A-Week: A project to study a daf per week]
* [ The Complete Babylonian Talmud] (Aramaic/Hebrew) as scanned images of the pages.
* [ The Complete Babylonian Talmud] (Aramaic/Hebrew) as text. (Also available from [ other sites] )
* [ A printable chart with listings of all Dappim from each Mesechta]
* [ Gemara Brochos:"Shema, Tefillah and Brochos"]
* [ Daily Gemara by Rabbi Eli Mansour]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Gemara — bezeichnet in der rabbinischen Tradition des Judentums die zweite Schicht des Talmud. Sie erläutert und ergänzt den Stoff der Mischna, der mündlichen Überlieferung. Mischna und Gemara bilden gemeinsam den Talmud. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Gemara — Gémara Littérature rabbinique Littérature de Hazal Mishna • Tossefta Guemara • Talmud Talmud de Jérusalem Talmud de Babylone Traités mineurs Baraïta Midrash Halakha Baraïta de Rabbi Ishmaël Mekhilta deRabbi Ish …   Wikipédia en Français

  • gémara — ⇒GÉMARA, subst. fém. RELIG. JUIVE. Commentaire écrit de la Mishna. La gemara palestinienne est composée en araméen de l ouest, très voisin de l araméen biblique qu on rencontre dans certains éléments des livres d Esdras et de Daniel. La gemara… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Gemara — [gə mä rä′; gə mä′rä, gəmôr′ə] n. [< Heb Aram gemara < Aram gemara, lit., study, learning < verb root gmr, to finish] 1. the second and supplementary part of the Talmud, providing a commentary on the first part (the MISHNA) 2. loosely… …   English World dictionary

  • Gemara —   [aramäisch »Vervollständigung«, »Erlerntes«] die, , die Diskussionen und Erklärungen der späteren Rabbiner (Amoräer, 3. 5. Jahrhundert) über die Mischna, sowohl Halacha als auch Haggada umfassend. Mischna und Gemara bilden den Talmud. * * *… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • GEMARA — (Aram. גְּמָרָא; lit. completion or tradition ), a word popularly applied to the Talmud as a whole, or more particularly to the discussions and elaborations by the amoraim on the Mishnah. The word appears (abbreviated) in the printed editions of… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Gemara — Ge*ma ra, n. [Heb.] (Jewish Law) The second part of the Talmud, or the commentary on the Mishna (which forms the first part or text). [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Gemāra — Gemāra, der zweite Theil des Talmud, welcher die rabbinischen Erklärungen des ersten Theils, der Mischna, enthält, s.u. Talmud …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Gemara — Gemara, s. Talmud …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Gemara — Gemara, der 2. Theil des Thalmud, die Erklärung der jüd. Gesetze …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • GEMARA — vide Misna …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

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