Navigating the Sea of Talmud

Sea of Halacha
“I’m gonna rise above and go below,
ride with the tide and go with the flow”
Inez and Charlie Foxx, covered by James Taylor and Carly Simon)

Years ago, my response to the question “What is Talmud” would have been to point to the bookcase and say “See those 20 huge volumes of text which are bending that shelf out of shape? That’s Talmud.”


The real answer is to point my finger at you and say “You are.” Or rather, “Your question is.”

See, Talmud is not written. It’s an ongoing conversation that traditionally started at Sinai (& probably even earlier) and is refreshed with every added contribution. It’s a trickle that grew into a creek that became a river which flowed into a bay and is now an ocean. It’s the proverbial body of water you can’t step into twice, because it changes – and we change—every time we enter.

It’s not a book. We have only one “book” and that is the “Written Torah”. Had history been otherwise, Talmud may have remained oral. It’s only persecutions and the fear of knowledge being lost that our sages tried to record the oral traditions.

It’s not a book it’s a process.

Click on the graphic above and you’ll see how far back Talmud goes and how far it’s come. Where will it take you? I don’t know. Just jump in and go with the flow.

But make sure you find a swimming buddy.




About Sidney Slivko

There are so many things I enjoy doing -- teaching, reading, editing, art, networking, computers -- and thank God, I am able to integrate all of them. I am one of the original Jewish Studies teachers to use computer technology and multi-media in Jewish education (Mishna-mation, Hypertext Talmud, Guided Social Simulations & gaming for learning Jewish values, media and drama). I got into this because that's where the students were, and I was fortunate to have principals and school heads that believed in me and allowed me to use my creativity to reach them. Since coming to Israel in 1997 as a fellow in the Melton Senior Educators' Program, I have been expanding my apps and my reach, and still continue to look for new and creative ways to use the media.
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One Response to Navigating the Sea of Talmud

  1. Aaron says:

    I like the idea of the Talmud being inside of ourselves. My sense is that the Talmud lies in our interactions with the texts. It’s not a set of abstract ideas and rules, a proverbial mountain of rock that doesn’t change. Nor is it only us. It’s the sweat and effort we use climbing up that mountain. The Talmud is what’s generated when our feet touch the mountain, in our interaction with it, because every step reveals a new view of the world and a new view of ourselves.

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