Re: Definitions
Fri, 23 May 1997 00:27:27 EDT

Janet Gunn wrote:
>I am new to studying Torah and Judaism. In studying/reading I occasionally
>come across words/numbers such as:
>Vayyikra 1:2 (citing the Rabbinic exegesis in Sifra), ;(BT Berakhot 21a, BT
>Pesahim 54a, JT Berakhot 4:4). These names and numbers seem to indicate a
>written document. I'm guessing this is a book (Talmud perhaps?) and these
>are the names of the authors and the section of the text I might locate the
>information I've just seen cited.
>Also what is the definition of these words? Pirkei Avoth; Mishnayot;

Following the conventional (Christian) chapter and verse, Vayyikra 1:2
refers to chapter 1 verse 2. Vayikra=Leviticus

Sifra is an exegetical work on Leviticus of the Mishnaic era. BT=Babylonian
Talmud; JT=Jerusalem Talmud. Note that these are distinct books. The BT
is commonly referred to by page and side, (made useful by the fact that
virtually all editions follow the same pagination,) so 21a means the first
side of page 21; 21b would be the second (reverse) side. The JT is
divided into "halachos" (laws) and thus 4:4 would be chapter 4 halacha 4.

The Mishna (plural Mishnayos or Mishnayot) is the collection of
codification of the Oral Law first set down in writing by Rabbi Judah the
Prince (Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi). It is the basis for discussions embodied in
the two Talmuds and the root of all Jewish law (Halacha).

Pirkei Avot is one of the tractates of the Mishna, the one which deals with
ethics rather than strictly with law.

I don't know what you are referring to by Magen/Mogen; I presume you mean
one of several commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch (code of Jewish law)
whose name begins with that word i.e the 'Mogen Avraham'(literally 'the
shield of Abraham')