Mishneh Torah, Transmission of the Oral Law
1 א

אָז לֹא אֵבוֹשׁ, בְּהַבִּיטִי אֶל כָּל מִצְו‍ֹתֶיךָ:
כָּל הַמִּצְווֹת שֶׁנִּתְּנוּ לוֹ לְמֹשֶׁה בְּסִינַי – בְּפֵרוּשָׁן נִתְּנוּ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר "וְאֶתְּנָה לְךָ אֶת־לֻחֹת הָאֶבֶן, וְהַתּוֹרָה וְהַמִּצְוָה" (שמות כד, יב): "תּוֹרָה", זוֹ תּוֹרָה שֶׁבִּכְתָב; וּ"מִצְוָה", זֶה פֵּרוּשָׁהּ. וְצִוָּנוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת הַתּוֹרָה, עַל פִּי הַמִּצְוָה. וּמִצְוָה זוֹ, הִיא הַנִּקְרֵאת תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה.

BY OUR MASTER MOSES BEN MAIMON OF BLESSED MEMORY
"Then should I not be ashamed, when I have regard unto all Thy Commandments". (Ps. 119.6.)
All of the commandments which were given to Moses on Sinai were given together with their oral explanation for, it is said: "And I will give thee the tables of stone, and the Torah and the commandment" (Ex. 24.12.); the Torah, is Holy Writ; and the commandment, its oral explanation. Moreover, He commanded us to observe the Torah by the word of the commandment; thus it is this commandment which is called Oral Torah.

2 ב

כָּל הַתּוֹרָה – כְּתָבָהּ מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ קֹדֶם שֶׁיָּמוּת, בִּכְתָב יָדוֹ. וְנָתַן סֵפֶר לְכָל שֵׁבֶט וְשֵׁבֶט; וְסֵפֶר אֶחָד – נְתָנָהוּ בָּאָרוֹן לְעֵד, שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר "לָקֹחַ, אֵת סֵפֶר הַתּוֹרָה הַזֶּה, וְשַׂמְתֶּם אֹתוֹ, מִצַּד אֲרוֹן בְּרִית־ה' אֱלֹהֵיכֶם; וְהָיָה־שָׁם בְּךָ, לְעֵד" (דברים לא, כו).

The whole Torah was written by Moses our Master, before his demise, by his own hand; and he gave a Book to each and every tribe, and one Book he deposited in the Ark as testimony, even as it is said; "Take this Book of the Torah and put it by the side of the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there as a witness against thee" (Deut. 32.26.);

3 ג

וְהַמִּצְוָה, שְׁהִיא פֵּרוּשׁ הַתּוֹרָה – לֹא כְתָבָהּ; אֵלָא צִוָּה בָּהּ לַזְּקֵנִים וְלִיהוֹשׁוּעַ וְלִשְׁאָר כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל, שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר "אֵת כָּל־הַדָּבָר, אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם – אֹתוֹ תִשְׁמְרוּ, לַעֲשׂוֹת . . ." (דברים יג, א). וּמִפְּנֵי זֶה נִקְרֵאת תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה.

but the commandment, which is the oral explanation of the Torah, he did not reduce to writing, but he charged the Elders and Joshua and the rest of all Israel concerning its observance, even as it is said: "All the word which I command you, that shall ye observe to do" (Ibid. 23.1.); therefore, is this word of the commandment called, Oral Torah.

4 ד

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא נִכְתְּבָה תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה, לִמְּדָהּ מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ כֻּלָּהּ בְּבֵית דִּינוֹ לְשִׁבְעִים זְקֵנִים; וְאֶלְעָזָר וּפִינְחָס וִיהוֹשׁוּעַ, שְׁלָשְׁתָּן קִבְּלוּ מִמֹּשֶׁה. וְלִיהוֹשׁוּעַ שְׁהוּא תַּלְמִידוֹ שֶׁלְּמֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ, מָסַר תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה וְצִוָּהוּ עָלֶיהָ; וְכֵן יְהוֹשׁוּעַ, כָּל יְמֵי חַיָּיו לִמַּד עַל פֶּה.

Although the Oral Torah was not reduced to writing, Moses our Master gave instructions in its full scope at his tribunal-seat, to seventy Elders. Eleazar, Phinehas and Joshua, all the three of them received it from Moses; yet, unto Joshua, because he was the disciple of Moses our Master, he transmitted the Oral Torah and charged him concerning its observance. Joshua likewise continued throughout his lifetime to study it orally;

5 ה

וּזְקֵנִים רַבִּים קִבְּלוּ מִיְּהוֹשׁוּעַ, וְקִבַּל עֵלִי מִן הַזְּקֵנִים וּמִפִּינְחָס; וּשְׁמוּאֵל קִבַּל מֵעֵלִי וּבֵית דִּינוֹ, וְדָוִיד קִבַּל מִשְּׁמוּאֵל וּבֵית דִּינוֹ. וַאֲחִיָּה הַשִּׁילוֹנִי, מִיּוֹצְאֵי מִצְרַיִם הָיָה וְלֵוִי הָיָה, וְשָׁמַע מִמֹּשֶׁה, וְהָיָה קָטָן בִּימֵי מֹשֶׁה; וְהוּא קִבַּל מִדָּוִיד וּבֵית דִּינוֹ.

and many Elders received it from Joshua. Eli received it from the Elders and from Phinehas; Samuel received it from Eli and his tribunal; David received it from Samuel and his tribunal; Ahijah the Shiloite who was among those who went forth out of Egypt, and a Levite, heard Moses expounding it; but, as he was an infant in the days of Moses, he became the recipient from David and his tribunal;

6 ו

אֵלִיָּהוּ קִבַּל מֵאֲחִיָּה הַשִּׁילוֹנִי וּבֵית דִּינוֹ, וֶאֱלִישָׁע קִבַּל מֵאֵלִיָּהוּ וּבֵית דִּינוֹ, וִיהוֹיָדָע הַכּוֹהֵן קִבַּל מֵאֱלִישָׁע וּבֵית דִּינוֹ, וּזְכַרְיָהוּ קִבַּל מִיְּהוֹיָדָע וּבֵית דִּינוֹ, וְהוֹשֵׁעַ קִבַּל מִזְּכַרְיָה וּבֵית דִּינוֹ, וְעָמוֹס קִבַּל מֵהוֹשֵׁעַ וּבֵית דִּינוֹ, וִישַׁעְיָהוּ קִבַּל מֵעָמוֹס וּבֵית דִּינוֹ, וּמִיכָה קִבַּל מִיְּשַׁעְיָה וּבֵית דִּינוֹ, וְיוֹאֵל קִבַּל מִמִּיכָה וּבֵית דִּינוֹ, וְנַחוּם קִבַּל מִיּוֹאֵל וּבֵית דִּינוֹ, וַחֲבַקּוּק קִבַּל מִנַּחוּם וּבֵית דִּינוֹ, וּצְפַנְיָה קִבַּל מֵחֲבַקּוּק וּבֵית דִּינוֹ, וְיִרְמְיָה קִבַּל מִצְּפַנְיָה וּבֵית דִּינוֹ, וּבָרוּךְ בֶּן נֵרִיָּה קִבַּל מִיִּרְמְיָה וּבֵית דִּינוֹ, וְעֶזְרָא וּבֵית דִּינוֹ קִבְּלוּ מִבָּרוּךְ וּבֵית דִּינוֹ.

Elijah received it from Ahijah the Shiloite and his tribunal; Elisha received it from Elijah and his tribunal; Jehoiadah the priest received it from Elisha and his tribunal; Zechariah received it from Jehoiadah and his tribunal; Hosea received it from Zechariah and his tribunal; Amos received it from Hosea and his tribunal; Isaiah received it from Amos and his tribunal; Micha received it from Isaiah and his tribunal; Joel received it from Micha and his tribunal; Nahum received it from Joel and his tribunal; Habakkuk received it from Nahum and his tribunal; Zephaniah received it from Habakkuk and his tribunal; Jeremiah received it from Zephaniah and his tribunal; Baruch son of Neriah received it from Jeremiah and his tribunal; Ezra and his tribunal received it from Baruch son of Neriah and his tribunal.

7 ז

בֵּית דִּינוֹ שֶׁלְּעֶזְרָא, הֶם הַנִּקְרָאִין אַנְשֵׁי כְּנֶסֶת הַגְּדוֹלָה. וְהֶם חַגַּי זְכַרְיָה וּמַלְאָכִי, וְדָנִיֵּאל חֲנַנְיָה מִישָׁאֵל וַעֲזַרְיָה, וּנְחֶמְיָה בֶּן חֲכַלְיָה, וּמָרְדֳּכַי, וּזְרֻבָּבֶל; וְהַרְבֵּה חֲכָמִים עִמָּהֶם, תַּשְׁלוּם מֵאָה וְעֶשְׂרִים זְקֵנִים. הָאַחֲרוֹן מֵהֶם הוּא שִׁמְעוֹן הַצַּדִּיק, וְהוּא הָיָה מִכְּלַל הַמֵּאָה וְעֶשְׂרִים, וְקִבַּל תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה מִכֻּלָּן; וְהוּא הָיָה כּוֹהֵן גָּדוֹל, אַחַר עֶזְרָא.

The members of Ezra's tribunal are called Men of the Great Assembly, namely: Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah, Nehemiah son of Hacaliah, Mordecai, Bilshan2Ibn Ezra supports the contention that Bilshan is the name of one of Zerubbable's associates (Ibn Ezra; Ezra. 2.2.) See Megilah, 16b. G., Zerubbable and many other scholars with them, totaling the number of an hundred and twenty Elders. The last surviving Elder of among them was Simeon the Just, who was included among the one hundred and twenty, and received the Oral Torah from all of them, and succeeded Ezra to the High Priesthood.

8 ח

אַנְטִיגְנוֹס אִישׁ שׂוֹכוֹ וּבֵית דִּינוֹ קִבְּלוּ מִשִּׁמְעוֹן הַצַּדִּיק וּבֵית דִּינוֹ, וְיוֹסֵף בֶּן יוֹעֶזֶר אִישׁ צְרֵדָה וְיוֹסֵף בֶּן יוֹחָנָן אִישׁ יְרוּשָׁלַיִם וּבֵית דִּינָם קִבְּלוּ מֵאַנְטִיגְנוֹס וּבֵית דִּינוֹ, וִיהוֹשׁוּעַ בֶּן פְּרַחְיָה וְנִתַּאי הָאַרְבֵּלִי וּבֵית דִּינָם קִבְּלוּ מִיּוֹסֵף וְיוֹסֵף וּבֵית דִּינָם, וִיהוּדָה בֶּן טָבַאי וְשִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן שָׁטָח וּבֵית דִּינָם קִבְּלוּ מִיְּהוֹשׁוּעַ וְנִתַּאי וּבֵית דִּינָם. שְׁמַעְיָה וְאַבְטַלְיוֹן גֵּרֵי הַצֶּדֶק וּבֵית דִּינָם קִבְּלוּ מִיְּהוּדָה וְשִׁמְעוֹן וּבֵית דִּינָם. וְהִלֵּל וְשַׁמַּאי וּבֵית דִּינָם קִבְּלוּ מִשְּׁמַעְיָה וְאַבְטַלְיוֹן וּבֵית דִּינָם. וְרַבַּן יוֹחָנָן בֶּן זַכַּאי וְרַבַּן שִׁמְעוֹן בְּנוֹ שֶׁלְּהִלֵּל קִבְּלוּ מֵהִלֵּל וּבֵית דִּינוֹ.

Antigonus of Soko and his tribunal, received it from Simeon the Just and his tribunal; Jose son of Joezer of Zereda and Joseph son of Johanan of Jerusalem and their tribunal, received it from Antigonus and his tribunal; Joshua son of Perahya and Nittai of Arebela and their tribunal, received it from Jose son of Joezer and Joseph son of Johanan and their tribunal; Judah son of Tabbai and Simeon son of Shetah and their tribunal, received it from Joshua son of Perahyah and Nittai of Arebela and their tribunal; Shemaiah and Abtalion the Just Proselytes and their tribunal, received it from Judah and Simeon and their tribunal; Hillel and Shammai and their tribunal, received it from Shemaiah and Abtalion and their tribunal; Rabbin Johanan son of Zakkai and Simeon son of Hillel the Elder3Simeon I., received it from Hillel and (Shammai) and their (his) tribunal(s).

9 ט

חֲמִשָּׁה תַּלְמִידִים הָיוּ לוֹ לְרַבַּן יוֹחָנָן בֶּן זַכַּאי, וְהֶם גְּדוֹלֵי הַחֲכָמִים שֶׁקִּבְּלוּ מִמֶּנּוּ; וְאֵלּוּ הֶם – רִבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר הַגָּדוֹל, וְרִבִּי יְהוֹשׁוּעַ, וְרִבִּי יוֹסֵי הַכּוֹהֵן, וְרִבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן נְתַנְאֵל, וְרִבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן עֲרָךְ. וְרִבִּי עֲקִיבָה בֶּן יוֹסֵף קִבַּל מֵרִבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר הַגָּדוֹל, וְיוֹסֵף אָבִיו גֵּר צֶדֶק הָיָה. וְרִבִּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל וְרִבִּי מֵאִיר בֶּן גֵּר הַצֶּדֶק קִבְּלוּ מֵרִבִּי עֲקִיבָה, וְגַם קִבַּל רִבִּי מֵאִיר וַחֲבֵרָיו מֵרִבִּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל.

Rabbin Johanan son of Zakkai had five disciples who were the greatest among the scholars to receive it from him, they are: Rabbi Eliezer the Great4Son of Hyrcanus., Rabbi Joshua5Son of Hananiah., Rabbi Jose the Priest6The Pious., Rabbi Simeon son of Nathaniel, and Rabbi Eleazar son of Arak. Rabbi Akiba son of Joseph received it from Rabbi Eliezer the Great, and his father Joseph was a just proselyte; Rabbi Ishmael and Rabbi Meir7The Miracle Worker. son of the just proselyte, received it from Rabbi Akiba; Rabbi Meir and his Associates, however, received it also from Rabbi Ishmael.

10 י

חֲבֵרָיו שֶׁלְּרִבִּי מֵאִיר – הֶם רִבִּי יְהוּדָה, וְרִבִּי יוֹסֵי, וְרִבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן, וְרִבִּי נְחֶמְיָה, וְרִבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן שַׁמּוּעַ, וְרִבִּי יוֹחָנָן הַסַּנְדְּלָר, וְשִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן עַזַּאי, וְרִבִּי חֲנַנְיָה בֶּן תְּרַדְיוֹן. וְכֵן קִבְּלוּ חֲבֵרָיו שֶׁלְּרִבִּי עֲקִיבָה מֵרִבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר הַגָּדוֹל; וַחֲבֵרָיו שֶׁלְּרִבִּי עֲקִיבָה – הֶם רִבִּי טַרְפוֹן רִבּוֹ שֶׁלְּרִבִּי יוֹסֵי הַגָּלִילִי, וְרִבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן אֶלְעָזָר, וְרִבִּי יוֹחָנָן בֶּן נוּרִי.

These are the names of Rabbi Meir's Associates; Rabbi Judah8Son of Ilia., Rabbi Jose9Son of Halafta. G. Rabbi Simeon10Son of Johai., Rabbi Nehemiah11See Ex. Rabba 98., Rabbi Eleazar son of Shamua, Rabbi Johanan ha-Sandler, Simeon son of Azai and Hananajah son of Teradion. The associates of Rabbi Akiba also received it from Rabbi Eliezar the Great. The associates of Rabbi Akiba are: Rabbi Tarphon Master of Jose the Galilean, Simeon son of Eleazar and Johanan son of Nuri.

11 יא

רַבַּן גַּמְלִיאֵל הַזָּקֵן קִבַּל מֵרַבַּן שִׁמְעוֹן אָבִיו, בְּנוֹ שֶׁלְּהִלֵּל; וְרַבַּן שִׁמְעוֹן בְּנוֹ קִבַּל מִמֶּנּוּ, וְרַבַּן גַּמְלִיאֵל בְּנוֹ קִבַּל מִמֶּנּוּ, וְרַבַּן שִׁמְעוֹן בְּנוֹ קִבַּל מִמֶּנּוּ. וְרִבִּי יְהוּדָה בְּנוֹ שֶׁלְּרַבַּן שִׁמְעוֹן, זֶה הוּא הַנִּקְרָא רַבֵּנוּ הַקָּדוֹשׁ, וְהוּא קִבַּל מֵאָבִיו, וּמֵרִבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן שַׁמּוּעַ וּמֵרִבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן חֲבֵרוֹ.

Rabbin Gamaliel the Elder received it from Simeon son of Hillel the Elder; his son, Simeon received it from him; from him, his son Rabbin Gamaliel12The II. received it; from him, his son Rabbin Simeon received it; and Judah, the son of this Rabbin Simeon, is he who is called our Holy Master; and he received it from his father, and from Eleazar son of Shamua and from Rabbi Simen13Son of Johai. G. his Associates.

12 יב

רַבֵּנוּ הַקָּדוֹשׁ חִבַּר הַמִּשְׁנָה. וּמִיְּמוֹת מֹשֶׁה וְעַד רַבֵּנוּ הַקָּדוֹשׁ, לֹא חִבְּרוּ חִבּוּר שֶׁמְּלַמְּדִין אוֹתוֹ בָּרַבִּים בְּתוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה; אֵלָא בְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר, רֹאשׁ בֵּית דִּין אוֹ נָבִיא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בְּאוֹתוֹ הַדּוֹר, כּוֹתֵב לְעַצְמוֹ זִכָּרוֹן בַּשְּׁמוּעוֹת שֶׁשָּׁמַע מֵרִבּוֹתָיו, וְהוּא מְלַמֵּד עַל פֶּה בָּרַבִּים.

Our Holy Master compiled the Mishna. From the days of Moses our Master till our Holy Master no text book of the Oral Torah for public instruction had been issued, the practice theretofore being for the president of a tribunal or a prophet who flourished in a given generation to keep privately written memoranda of his Masters' oral teachings, out of which he, in turn, instructed the public orally.

13 יג

וְכֵן כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד כּוֹתֵב לְעַצְמוֹ כְּפִי כּוֹחוֹ, מִבֵּאוּר הַתּוֹרָה וּמֵהִלְכּוֹתֶיהָ כְּמוֹ שֶׁשָּׁמַע, וּמִדְּבָרִים שֶׁנִּתְחַדְּשׁוּ בְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר, בְּדִינִים שֶׁלֹּא לְמָדוּם מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה אֵלָא בְּמִדָּה מִשְּׁלוֹשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה מִדּוֹת וְהִסְכִּימוּ עֲלֵיהֶן בֵּית דִּין הַגָּדוֹל. וְכֵן הָיָה הַדָּבָר תָּמִיד, עַד רַבֵּנוּ הַקָּדוֹשׁ.

Like practice was resorted to by each and every individual scholar to write down, according to his ability of understanding the exposition on the Torah and its laws, as he heard it. So was also the practice in preserving new acts in each and every generation which were not based on tradition but upon one of the thirteen hermeneutical rules, to which the Great Tribunal had assented. This procedure was followed continuously until the advent of our Holy Master,

14 יד

וְהוּא קִבַּץ כָּל הַשְּׁמוּעוֹת וְכָל הַדִּינִין וְכָל הַבֵּאוּרִין וְהַפֵּרוּשִׁין שֶׁשָּׁמְעוּ מִמֹּשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ, וְשֶׁלִּמְּדוּ בֵּית דִּין שֶׁלְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר, בְּכָל הַתּוֹרָה כֻּלָּהּ; וְחִבַּר מֵהַכֹּל סֵפֶר הַמִּשְׁנָה. וְשִׁנְּנוֹ בָּרַבִּים, וְנִגְלָה לְכָל יִשְׂרָאֵל; וּכְתָבוּהוּ כֻּלָּם, וְרִבְּצוּ בְּכָל מָקוֹם, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא תִשְׁתַּכַּח תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל.

and he collected all traditional precedents, judicial pronouncements, expositions and explanations, whether they were traditionally attributed to Moses our Master or whether they were so instructed by the tribunals in each and every generation, the scope of which embraced the whole Torah, and from it all he compiled the Book of the Mishna, out of which he gave public instruction to scholars, and its fame reached to all Israel, and written copies of it were made universally, and its circulation reached everywhere, so that the Oral Torah be not forgotten from the midst of Israel.

15 טו

וְלָמָּה עָשָׂה רַבֵּנוּ הַקָּדוֹשׁ כָּךְ, וְלֹא הִנִּיחַ הַדָּבָר כְּמוֹת שֶׁהָיָה – לְפִי שֶׁרָאָה שֶׁהַתַּלְמִידִים מִתְמַעֲטִים וְהוֹלְכִים, וְהַצָּרוֹת מִתְחַדְּשׁוֹת וּבָאוֹת, וּמַמְלֶכֶת הָרִשְׁעָה פּוֹשֶׁטֶת בָּעוֹלָם וּמִתְגַּבֶּרֶת, וְיִשְׂרָאֵל מִתְגַּלְגְּלִים וְהוֹלְכִים לַקְּצָווֹת: חִבַּר חִבּוּר אֶחָד לִהְיוֹת בְּיַד כֻּלָּם, כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּלְמְדוּהוּ בִּמְהֵרָה וְלֹא יִשָּׁכַח; וְיָשַׁב כָּל יָמָיו הוּא וּבֵית דִּינוֹ, וְלִמַּד הַמִּשְׁנָה בָּרַבִּים.

But why did our Holy Master thus, and did not leave the matter as it was heretofore? Because he observed that the number of students continued to decrease, whereas the volume of oppression continued to increase with renewed strength; that the Roman Empire continued to spread out its boundaries in the world and conquer, whereas Israel continued to drift aimlessly and follow extremes, he, therefore, compiled one book, a handy volume for all, so that they may study it even in haste and not forget it. And his whole lifetime, he sat together with the members of his tribunal and gave public instruction in the Mishna.

16 טז

וְאֵלּוּ הֶם גְּדוֹלֵי הַחֲכָמִים שֶׁהָיוּ בְּבֵית דִּינוֹ שֶׁלְּרַבֵּנוּ הַקָּדוֹשׁ וְקִבְּלוּ מִמֶּנּוּ – שִׁמְעוֹן וְגַמְלִיאֵל בָּנָיו, וְרִבִּי אָפֵס, וְרִבִּי חֲנַנְיָה בֶּן חָמָא, וְרִבִּי חִיָּא, וְרָב, וְרִבִּי יַנַּאי, וּבַר קַפָּרָא, וּשְׁמוּאֵל, וְרִבִּי יוֹחָנָן, וְרִבִּי הוֹשַׁעְיָה. אֵלּוּ הֶם הַגְּדוֹלִים שֶׁקִּבְּלוּ מִמֶּנּוּ, וְעִמָּהֶם אֲלָפִים וּרְבָבוֹת מִשְּׁאָר הַחֲכָמִים.

And these are the great scholars who were members of our Holy Master's tribunal, and who received it from him; Simon and Gamaliel his sons, Rabbi Aphos14Successor to the Presidency of our Holy Master's tribunal., Rabbi Hanina son of Hama, Rabbi Hiyya15Son of Adda., Rab16Abba Arika., Rabbi Yannai17The Great., Bar Koppara18Eleazar son of Eleazar ha-Koppar., Samuel, Rabbi Johanan20Son of Nappaha., and Rabbi Hoshaia21The Great. G.. They were the principal scholars who received it from him, but along with them were thousands even tens of thousands of among the rest of his contemporary scholars.

17 יז

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵלּוּ הָאַחַד עָשָׂר קִבְּלוּ מֵרַבֵּנוּ הַקָּדוֹשׁ וְעָמְדוּ בְּמִדְרָשׁוֹ, רִבִּי יוֹחָנָן קָטָן הָיָה וְאַחַר כָּךְ הָיָה תַּלְמִיד לְרִבִּי יַנַּאי וְקִבַּל מִמֶּנּוּ תּוֹרָה. וְכֵן רָב קִבַּל מֵרִבִּי יַנַּאי; וּשְׁמוּאֵל קִבַּל מֵרִבִּי חֲנַנְיָה בֶּן חָמָא.

Although all of these eleven scholars received it from our Holy Master and regularly attended his lectures, Rabbi Johanan was then in his minority, and thereafter became the disciple of Rabbi Yannai from whom he received the Oral Torah. So did Rab receive it from Rabbi Yannai; but Samuel received it from Hanina son of Hama.

18 יח

רָב חִבַּר סִפְרָא וְסִפְרֵי לְבָאַר וּלְהוֹדִיעַ עִיקְרֵי הַמִּשְׁנָה, וְרִבִּי חִיָּא חִבַּר הַתּוֹסֶפְתָּא לְבָאַר עִנְיְנֵי הַמִּשְׁנָה. וְכֵן רִבִּי הוֹשַׁעְיָה וּבַר קַפָּרָא חִבְּרוּ בַּרַּיְתּוֹת לְבָאַר דִּבְרֵי הַמִּשְׁנָה, וְרִבִּי יוֹחָנָן חִבַּר הַתַּלְמוּד הַיְּרוּשְׁלְמִי בְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל אַחַר חָרְבַּן הַבַּיִת בְּקֵרוּב מִשְּׁלוֹשׁ מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה.

Rab compiled the Sifra and Sifre to elucidate and proclaim the principles of the Mishna; Rabbi Hiyya compiled the Tosefta to elucidate the treatises of the Mishna; Rabbi Hoshaiah and Bar Koppara compiled the Braitot to elucidate the texts of the Mishna; and Rabbi Johanan compiled the Jerusalemean Talmud in Eretz Yisrael, close to the third century after the destruction of the (Second) Temple.

19 יט

וּמִגְּדוֹלֵי הַחֲכָמִים שֶׁקִּבְּלוּ מֵרָב וּשְׁמוּאֵל – רָב הוּנָא, וְרָב יְהוּדָה, וְרָב נַחְמָן, וְרָב כַּהֲנָא; וּמִגְּדוֹלֵי הַחֲכָמִים שֶׁקִּבְּלוּ מֵרִבִּי יוֹחָנָן – רַבָּה בַּר בַּר חָנָה, וְרִבִּי אַמֵי, וְרִבִּי אַסֵי, וְרָב דִּימֵי, וְרַאבּוּן.

Among the principal scholars who received the Oral Torah from Rab and Samuel were: Rab Huna, Rab Judah, Rab Nahman and Rab Kahana: and among the principal scholars who received it from Rabbi Johanan were: Rabba Bar Bar Hana, Rab Ami, Rab Assi, Rab Dimi, and Rab Abin.

20 כ

וּמִכְּלַל הַחֲכָמִים שֶׁקִּבְּלוּ מֵרָב הוּנָא וּמֵרָב יְהוּדָה, רַבָּה וְרָב יוֹסֵף. וּמִכְּלַל הַחֲכָמִים שֶׁקִּבְּלוּ מֵרַבָּה וְרָב יוֹסֵף, אַבַּיֵי וְרַבָּא; וּשְׁנֵיהֶם קִבְּלוּ גַּם מֵרָב נַחְמָן. וּמִכְּלַל הַחֲכָמִים שֶׁקִּבְּלוּ מֵרַבָּא, רָב אַשֵׁי וְרַבִּינָא; וּמָר בַּר רָב אַשֵׁי קִבַּל מֵאָבִיו וּמֵרַבִּינָא.

Among the scholars who received it from Rab Huna and Rab Judah were: Rabba and Rab Joseph; among the scholars who received it from Rabba and Rab Joseph were: Abayya and Raba, yet both of them received it also from Rab Nahman; among the scholars who received it from Raba were: Rab Ashi and Rabina; and Mar the son of Rab Ashi received it from his father and from Rabina.

21 כא

נִמְצָא מֵרָב אַשֵׁי עַד מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ – אַרְבָּעִים אִישׁ, וְאֵלּוּ הֶן: (א) רָב אַשֵׁי, (ב) מֵרַבָּא, (ג) מֵרַבָּה, (ד) מֵרָב הוּנָא, (ה) מֵרִבִּי יוֹחָנָן וְרָב וּשְׁמוּאֵל, (ו) מֵרַבֵּנוּ הַקָּדוֹשׁ, (ז) מֵרַבַּן שִׁמְעוֹן אָבִיו, (ח) מֵרַבַּן גַּמְלִיאֵל אָבִיו, (ט) מֵרַבַּן שִׁמְעוֹן אָבִיו, (י) מֵרַבַּן גַּמְלִיאֵל הַזָּקֵן אָבִיו, (יא) מֵרַבַּן שִׁמְעוֹן אָבִיו, (יב) מֵהִלֵּל אָבִיו וְשַׁמַּאי, (יג) מִשְּׁמַעְיָה וְאַבְטַלְיוֹן, (יד) מִיְּהוּדָה וְשִׁמְעוֹן, (טו) מִיְּהוֹשׁוּעַ וְנִתַּאי, (טז) מִיּוֹסֵף וְיוֹסֵף, (יז) מֵאַנְטִיגְנוֹס, (יח) מִשִּׁמְעוֹן הַצַּדִּיק, (יט) מֵעֶזְרָא, (כ) מִבָּרוּךְ, (כא) מִיִּרְמְיָה, (כב) מִצְּפַנְיָה, (כג) מֵחֲבַקּוּק, (כד) מִנַּחוּם, (כה) מִיּוֹאֵל, (כו) מִמִּיכָה, (כז) מִיְּשַׁעְיָה, (כח) מֵעָמוֹס, (כט) מֵהוֹשֵׁעַ, (ל) מִזְּכַרְיָה, (לא) מִיְּהוֹיָדָע, (לב) מֵאֱלִישָׁע, (לג) מֵאֵלִיָּהוּ, (לד) מֵאֲחִיָּה, (לה) מִדָּוִיד, (לו) מִשְּׁמוּאֵל, (לז) מֵעֵלִי, (לח) מִפִּינְחָס, (לט) מִיְּהוֹשׁוּעַ, (מ) מִמֹּשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ רִבָּן שֶׁלְּכָל הַנְּבִיאִים, מֵעִם ה' אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.

Consequently there are forty intervening generations from Rab Ashi till Moses our Master, peace be to him! namely: (1) Rab Ashi received the Oral Torah from Raba; (2) Raba from Rabba; (3) Rabba from Rab Huna; (4) Rab Huna from Rabbi Johanan and from Rab and Samuel; (5) Rabbi Johanan and Rab and Samuel from our Holy Master; (6) our Holy Master from Rabbi Simeon his father; (7) Rabbi Simeon from his father Rabbin Gamaliel; (8) Rabbin Gamaliel from his father Rabbin Simeon; (9) Rabbin Simeon from his father Rabbin Gamaliel the Elder; (10) Rabbin Gamaliel the Elder from his father Rabbin Simeon; (11) Rabbin Simeon from his father Hillel and from Shammai; (12) Hillel and Shamai from Shemaiah and Abtalion; (13) Shemaiah and Abtalion from Judah and Simeon; (14) Judah and Simeon from Joshua son of Perahyah and Nittai of Arbela; (15) Joshua and Nittai from Jose son of Joezer and Joseph son of Johanan; (16) Jose son of Joezer and Joseph son of Johanan from Antigonus (17) Antigonus from Simeon the Just; (18) Simeon the Just from Ezra; (19) Ezra from Baruch; (20) Baruch from Jeremiah; (21) Jeremiah from Zephanaiah; (22) Zephanaiah from Habakkuk; (23) Habakkuk from Nahum; (24) Nahum from Joel; (25) Joel from Micha; (26) Micha from Isaiah; (27) Isaiah from Amos; (28) Amos from Hosea; (29) Hosea from Zachariah; (30) Zachariah from Jehoiadah; (31) Jehoiadah from Elisha; (32) Elisha from Elijah; (33) Elijah from Ahijah; (34) Ahijah from David; (35) David from Samuel; (36) Samuel from Eli; (37) Eli from Phinehas; (38) Phinehas from Joshua; (39) Joshua from Moses our Master; (40) Moses our Master from the Word of Almighty. Thus it is established that all of them received it from the Lord God of Israel.

22 כב

כָּל אֵלּוּ הַחֲכָמִים הַנִּזְכָּרִים, הֶם גְּדוֹלֵי הַדּוֹרוֹת – מֵהֶם רָאשֵׁי יְשִׁיבוֹת, וּמֵהֶם רָאשֵׁי גָּלִיּוֹת, וּמֵהֶם מִסַּנְהֶדְּרֵי גְּדוֹלָה. וְעִמָּהֶם בְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר, אֲלָפִים וּרְבָבוֹת שֶׁשָּׁמְעוּ מֵהֶם וְעִמָּהֶם.

All of the hereinabove named scholars were the greatest men in their respective generations; some were heads of schools, others exilarchs, and still others heads of the Great Sanhedrin; and with them were their contemporaries in each and every generation numbering in the thousands, even tens of thousands who heard the Oral Torah being expounded together with them, or received it from them.

23 כג

רַבִּינָא וְרָב אַשֵׁי, הֶם סוֹף חַכְמֵי הַתַּלְמוּד; וְרָב אַשֵׁי הוּא שֶׁחִבַּר הַתַּלְמוּד הַבַּבְלִי בְּאֶרֶץ שִׁנְעָר, אַחַר שֶׁחִבַּר רִבִּי יוֹחָנָן הַתַּלְמוּד הַיְּרוּשְׁלְמִי בִּכְמוֹ מֵאָה שָׁנָה.

Rabina and RabAshi flourished at the close of the era of Talmudic scholars. Rab Ashi is he who compiled the Babylonian Talmud in the land of Shinar about a century after Rabbi Johanan compiled the Jerusalemean Talmud.

24 כד

וְעִנְיַן שְׁנֵי הַתַּלְמוּדִין – הוּא פֵּרוּשׁ דִּבְרֵי הַמִּשְׁנָה וּבֵאוּר עֲמוּקוֹתֶיהָ, וּדְבָרִים שֶׁנִּתְחַדְּשׁוּ בְּכָל בֵּית דִּין וּבֵית דִּין מִיְּמוֹת רַבֵּנוּ הַקָּדוֹשׁ וְעַד חִבּוּר הַתַּלְמוּד. וּמִשְּׁנֵי הַתַּלְמוּדִין, וּמִן הַתּוֹסֶפְתָּא, וּמִסִּפְרָא וּמִסִּפְרֵי, וּמִן הַתּוֹסֶפְתּוֹת – מִכֻּלָּם יִתְבָּאַר הָאָסוּר וְהַמֻּתָּר, וְהַטָּמֵא וְהַטָּהוֹר, וְהַחַיָּב וְהַפָּטוּר, וְהַכָּשֵׁר וְהַפָּסוּל, כְּמוֹ שֶׁהִעְתִּיקוּ אִישׁ מִפִּי אִישׁ מִפִּי מֹשֶׁה מִסִּינַי.

The scope of both Talmudic works comprises an exposition defining the text of the Mishna, elucidatory commentaries upon its complexities, and a survey of the legal precedents established by the succeeding tribunals during the intervening period between our Holy Master and the compilation of the Talmud. And, out of both Talmudic works, the Tosefta, Sifra, Sifre (and Additions), from it all is derived what is forbidden and what is permitted, what is polluted and what is clean, what is guilt and what is innocence, what is disqualified and what is fit, all as it was transmitted orally from man to man, from the mouth of Moses our Master, even from Sinai.

25 כה

גַּם יִתְבָּאַר מֵהֶם דְּבָרִים שֶׁגָּזְרוּ חֲכָמִים וּנְבִיאִים שֶׁבְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר, לַעֲשׂוֹת סְיָג לַתּוֹרָה, כְּמוֹ שֶׁשָּׁמְעוּ מִמֹּשֶׁה בְּפֵרוּשׁ "וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם אֶת־מִשְׁמַרְתִּי" (ויקרא יח, ל), שֶׁאָמַר עֲשׂוּ מִשְׁמֶרֶת לְמִשְׁמַרְתִּי.

Therefrom are also derived the edicta issued by the scholars and prophets in each and every generation to safeguard the Torah itself, as they heard it clearly from Moses, saying: "Therefore shall ye keep my charge" (Lev. 18.30.), which means, "Build a fence around My Guard".26Mo'ed Katan 5a. S.

26 כו

וְכֵן יִתְבָּאַר מֵהֶם הַמִּנְהָגוֹת וְהַתַּקָּנוֹת שֶׁהִתְקִינוּ אוֹ שֶׁנָּהֲגוּ בְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר, כְּמוֹ שֶׁרָאוּ בֵּית דִּין שֶׁלְּאוֹתוֹ הַדּוֹר, לְפִי שֶׁאָסוּר לָסוּר מֵהֶם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר "לֹא תָסוּר, מִכָּל הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר־יַגִּידוּ לְךָ – יָמִין וּשְׂמֹאל" (ראה דברים יז, יא).

Likewise are the customs and by-laws, which were inaugurated and enacted in each and every generation, by authority of the tribunal of a given generation derived therefrom. Moreover, it is forbidden to deviate from them, even as it is said: "Thou shalt not turn aside from the sentence which they shall declare unto thee, to the right hand, nor to the left" (Deut. 17.11.).

27 כז

וְכֵן מִשְׁפָּטִים וְדִינִין פִּלְאִיִּים שֶׁלֹּא קִבְּלוּ אוֹתָן מִמֹּשֶׁה, וְדָנוּ בָּהֶן בֵּית דִּין הַגָּדוֹל שֶׁלְּאוֹתוֹ הַדּוֹר בַּמִּדּוֹת שֶׁהַתּוֹרָה נִדְרֶשֶׁת בָּהֶן, וּפָסְקוּ אוֹתָן הַזְּקֵנִים, וְגָמְרוּ שֶׁהַדִּין כָּךְ הוּא. הַכֹּל חִבַּר רָב אַשֵׁי בַּתַּלְמוּד, מִיְּמוֹת מֹשֶׁה וְעַד יָמָיו.

Similarly are derived therefrom such laws and judicial pronouncements, otherwise not accredited by tradition to Moses, but legislated by a tribunal of a given generation upon authority of the rules by which the Torah is expounded, and were passed upon their merits by the Elders, who decided that such should be the law. The entire scope of it all, extending from the days of Moses even to his day, Rab Ashi compiled.

28 כח

וְחִבְּרוּ חַכְמֵי מִשְׁנָה חִבּוּרִין אֲחֵרִים, לְפָרַשׁ דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה: רִבִּי הוֹשַׁעְיָה תַּלְמִידוֹ שֶׁלְּרַבֵּנוּ הַקָּדוֹשׁ, חִבַּר בֵּאוּר סֵפֶר בְּרֵאשִׁית. וְרִבִּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל פֵּרַשׁ מֵאֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת עַד סוֹף הַתּוֹרָה, וְהוּא הַנִּקְרָא מְכִלְּתָא; וְכֵן רִבִּי עֲקִיבָה חִבַּר מְכִלְּתָא. וַחֲכָמִים אֲחֵרִים אַחֲרֵיהֶם חִבְּרוּ מִדְרָשׁוֹת. וְהַכֹּל חֻבַּר קֹדֶם הַתַּלְמוּד הַבַּבְלִי.

In addition, the scholars of the Mishnaic period compiled divers works of exegesis on the text of the Torah. Rabbi Hoshaia, a disciple of our Holy Master, compiled an exegetical work on the Book of Genesis; Rabbi Ishmael compiled a work of commentaries extending from Exodus till the end of the Torah; this work is called Mehilta; Rabbi Akiba, too, compiled a Mehilta; and other scholars, in a later period, compiled Midrashic literature; but all of those were edited prior to the compilation of the Babylonian Talmud.

29 כט

נִמְצָא רַבִּינָא וְרָב אַשֵׁי וְחַבְרֵיהֶם, סוֹף גְּדוֹלֵי חַכְמֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הַמַּעְתִּיקִים תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה, וְשֶׁגָּזְרוּ גְּזֵרוֹת וְהִתְקִינוּ תַּקָּנוֹת וְהִנְהִיגוּ מִנְהָגוֹת וּפָשְׁטוּ גְּזֵרוֹתָם וְתַקָּנוֹתָם וּמִנְהֲגוֹתָם בְּכָל יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּכָל מְקוֹמוֹת מוֹשְׁבוֹתֵיהֶם.

Consequently, Rabina and Rab Ashi and their Associates were the last of the great scholars in Israel who edited the Oral Torah, issued edicts, enacted statutes and established customs; and their edicts, statutes, and customs were universally accepted by Israel in all the places of their habitation.

30 ל

וְאַחַר בֵּית דִּינוֹ שֶׁלְּרָב אַשֵׁי, שֶׁחִבַּר הַתַּלְמוּד בִּימֵי בְּנוֹ וּגְמָרוֹ, נִתְפַּזְּרוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּכָל הָאֲרָצוֹת פִּזּוּר יָתֵר, וְהִגִּיעוּ לַקְּצָווֹת וְלָאִיִּים הָרְחוֹקִים; וְרָבְתָה קְטָטָה בָּעוֹלָם, וְנִשְׁתַּבְּשׁוּ הַדְּרָכִים בִּגְיָסוֹת. וְנִתְמַעַט תַּלְמוּד תּוֹרָה, וְלֹא נִתְכַּנְּסוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל לִלְמֹד בִּישִׁיבוֹתֵיהֶם אֲלָפִים וּרְבָבוֹת כְּמוֹ שֶׁהָיוּ מִקֹּדֶם.

After the tribunal of Rab Ashi, who compiled the Talmud, which was completed in the days of his son27 Mar. G., the extent of Israel's dispersion throughout the lands became more general, its extreme points reaching out to distant isles, in the midst of which universal unrest became alarming, making the highways unsafe on account of military operations, as a result of which the study of the Torah was neglected, and the sons of Israel ceased flocking to their schools in the thousands and in the tens of thousands as theretofore,

31 לא

אֵלָא מִתְקַבְּצִים יְחִידִים הַשְּׂרִידִים אֲשֶׁר ה' קוֹרֶא בְּכָל עִיר וְעִיר וּבְכָל מְדִינָה וּמְדִינָה, וְעוֹסְקִים בַּתּוֹרָה, וּמְבִינִים בְּחִבּוּרֵי הַחֲכָמִים כֻּלָּם, וְיוֹדְעִים מֵהֶם דֶּרֶךְ הַמִּשְׁפָּט הֵיאַךְ הוּא.

save only the gathering of a remnant few, who ever hear the call of God in each and every city and in each and every country and study the Torah and understand all the works of the scholars and learn to know therefrom the path of the law as it is.

32 לב

וְכָל בֵּית דִּין שֶׁעָמַד אַחַר הַתַּלְמוּד בְּכָל מְדִינָה וּמְדִינָה וְגָזַר אוֹ הִתְקִין אוֹ הִנְהִיג לִבְנֵי מְדִינָתוֹ, אוֹ לִבְנֵי מְדִינוֹת – לֹא פָשְׁטוּ מַעֲשָׂיו בְּכָל יִשְׂרָאֵל: מִפְּנֵי רֹחַק מוֹשְׁבוֹתֵיהֶם, וְשִׁבּוּשׁ הַדְּרָכִים; וֶהֱיוֹת בֵּית דִּין שֶׁלְּאוֹתָהּ הַמְּדִינָה יְחִידִים, וּבֵית דִּין הַגָּדוֹל שֶׁלְּשִׁבְעִים בָּטַל מִכַּמָּה שָׁנִים קֹדֶם חִבּוּר הַתַּלְמוּד.

Thus, every tribunal, founded during the post-Talmudic era in each and every country which issued edicts, or enacted statutes, or established customs, either for the inhabitants of its own country alone or for the inhabitants of many countries, did not have its authority extended throughout all Israel, because of the great distances between their habitations and the unsafe condition of the highways. Moreover, as the tribunal of a given state consisted of individual scholars only, for the Great Tribunal of seventy one had ceased to be many years before the compilation of the Talmud,

33 לג

לְפִיכָּךְ אֵין כּוֹפִין אַנְשֵׁי מְדִינָה זוֹ לִנְהֹג בְּמִנְהַג מְדִינָה אַחֶרֶת, וְאֵין אוֹמְרִין לְבֵית דִּין זֶה לִגְזֹר גְּזֵרָה שֶׁגְּזָרָהּ בֵּית דִּין אַחֵר בִּמְדִינָתוֹ. וְכֵן אִם לִמַּד אֶחָד מִן הַגְּאוֹנִים שֶׁדֶּרֶךְ הַמִּשְׁפָּט כָּךְ הוּא, וְנִתְבָּאַר לְבֵית דִּין אַחֵר שֶׁעָמַד אַחֲרָיו שְׁאֵין זֶה דֶּרֶךְ הַמִּשְׁפָּט הַכָּתוּב בַּתַּלְמוּד – אֵין שׁוֹמְעִין לָרִאשׁוֹן, אֵלָא לְמִי שֶׁהַדַּעַת נוֹטָה לִדְבָרָיו, בֵּין רִאשׁוֹן, בֵּין אַחֲרוֹן.

the people of one state could therefore, not be forced to inaugurate the custom of another state; neither could one tribunal be told to issue edicts similar to the edicts issued by another tribunal for its own state. Likewise, if one of the Gaonim instructed concerning a given law in a particular way, and it became clear to another tribunal which rose up after him, that such was not the way of the law according to the text of the Talmud, the first one is not supported but the one whose interpretation is based upon sound reasoning, whether he be the first one or the last one.

34 לד

וּדְבָרִים הַלָּלוּ, בְּדִינִים וּגְזֵרוֹת וְתַקָּנוֹת וּמִנְהָגוֹת שֶׁנִּתְחַדְּשׁוּ אַחַר חִבּוּר הַתַּלְמוּד. אֲבָל כָּל הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁבַּתַּלְמוּד הַבַּבְלִי, חַיָּבִין כָּל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל לָלֶכֶת בָּהֶם; וְכוֹפִין כָּל עִיר וְעִיר וְכָל מְדִינָה וּמְדִינָה לִנְהֹג בְּכָל הַמִּנְהָגוֹת שֶׁנָּהֲגוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁבַּתַּלְמוּד, וְלִגְזֹר גְּזֵרוֹתָם וְלָלֶכֶת בְּתַקָּנוֹתָם.

These rules apply only to laws, edicts, statutes and customs which were inaugurated during the post-Talmudic era; but all matters named in the Babylonian Talmud itself, are mandatory upon all Israel to follow, and each and every community and each and every state must be forced to inaugurate the customs which were promulgated by the Talmudic scholars, to proclaim their edicts and to obey their statutes,

35 לה

הוֹאִיל וְכָל אוֹתָן הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁבַּתַּלְמוּד הִסְכִּימוּ עֲלֵיהֶם כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְאוֹתָן הַחֲכָמִים שֶׁהִתְקִינוּ אוֹ שֶׁגָּזְרוּ אוֹ שֶׁהִנְהִיגוּ אוֹ שֶׁדָּנוּ דִּין וְלִמְּדוּ שֶׁהַמִּשְׁפָּט כָּךְ הוּא הֶם כָּל חַכְמֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אוֹ רֻבָּן, וְהֶם שֶׁשָּׁמְעוּ הַקַּבָּלָה בְּעִיקְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה כֻּלָּהּ, אִישׁ מִפִּי אִישׁ עַד מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ.

because to all such matters so named in the Talmud, all Israel assented. Moreover, those scholars who enacted statutes, issued edicts, inaugurated customs or made judicial pronouncements and instructed that such was the law, constituted all, or a majority of the scholars in Israel, and they were the recipients of the traditional interpretation of the precepts of the whole Torah, generation after generation, even unto Moses our Master, peace be unto him!

36 לו

כָּל הַחֲכָמִים שֶׁעָמְדוּ אַחַר חִבּוּר הַתַּלְמוּד וּבָנוּ בּוֹ, וְיָצָא לָהֶם שֵׁם בְּחָכְמָתָם – הֶם הַנִּקְרָאִים גְּאוֹנִים. וְכָל אֵלּוּ הַגְּאוֹנִים שֶׁעָמְדוּ בְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל וּבְאֶרֶץ שִׁנְעָר וּבִסְפָרַד וּבְצָרְפַת לִמְּדוּ דֶּרֶךְ הַתַּלְמוּד וְהוֹצִיאוּ לָאוֹר תַּעֲלוּמוֹתָיו וּבֵאֲרוּ עִנְיָנָיו, לְפִי שֶׁדֶּרֶךְ עֲמוּקָה דַּרְכּוֹ עַד לִמְאוֹד. וְעוֹד שְׁהוּא בִּלְשׁוֹן אֲרַמִּי מְעֹרָב עִם לְשׁוֹנוֹת אֲחֵרוֹת, לְפִי שֶׁאוֹתָהּ הַלָּשׁוֹן הָיְתָה בְּרוּרָה לַכֹּל בְּשִׁנְעָר בָּעֵת שֶׁחֻבַּר הַתַּלְמוּד; אֲבָל בִּשְׁאָר הַמְּקוֹמוֹת וְכֵן בְּשִׁנְעָר בִּימֵי הַגְּאוֹנִים, אֵין אָדָם מַכִּיר אוֹתָהּ לָשׁוֹן עַד שֶׁמְּלַמְּדִים אוֹתוֹ.

All of the scholars who rose up after the compilation of the Talmud and builded upon it, thereby gaining fame for their scholarship, are called Gaonim. All the Gaonim who flourished in Eretz Yisrael, in the land of Shinar, in Spain and in France studied searchingly the path of the Talmud, and brought to light its hidden mysteries, and clarified its treatises, for its path is an extremely deep path, Moreover, being written in Aramaic, blended with other languages, a vernacular understood by the inhabitants of Shinar when the Talmud was compiled; whereas in other places, and even in Shinar during the period of the Gaonim, no man understood that language unless he received special instructions therein.

37 לז

וּשְׁאֵלוֹת רַבּוֹת שׁוֹאֲלִין אַנְשֵׁי כָּל עִיר וְעִיר לְכָל גָּאוֹן שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בִּימֵיהֶם לְפָרַשׁ לָהֶם דְּבָרִים קָשִׁים שֶׁבַּתַּלְמוּד, וְהֶם מְשִׁיבִים לָהֶם כְּפִי חָכְמָתָם; וְאוֹתָן הַשּׁוֹאֲלִין מְקַבְּצִין הַתְּשׁוּבוֹת, וְעוֹשִׂין מֵהֶן סְפָרִים לְהָבִין מֵהֶם.

In addition the people of each and every city propounded many questions to their contemporary Gaonim for the elucidation of impenetrable texts in the Talmud, to whom the latter responded according to their wisdom, and such interrogators collected the responsa in book form, out of which they gained understanding.

38 לח

גַּם חִבְּרוּ הַגְּאוֹנִים שֶׁבְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר, חִבּוּרִין לְבָאַר הַתַּלְמוּד: מֵהֶם מִי שֶׁפֵּרַשׁ הֲלָכוֹת יְחִידוֹת, וּמֵהֶם מִי שֶׁפֵּרַשׁ פְּרָקִים יְחִידִים שֶׁנִּתְקַשּׁוּ בְּיָמָיו, וּמֵהֶם מִי שֶׁפֵּרַשׁ מַסֶּכְתּוֹת וּסְדָרִים.

The Gaonim in each and every generation compiled also exegetical works on the Talmud, some of among them interpreted particular laws; of among others particular chapters which had been the subject of inquiry in his days, and of among still others, whole Tractates and Orders.

39 לט

וְעוֹד חִבְּרוּ הֲלָכוֹת פְּסוּקוֹת, בְּעִנְיַן הָאָסוּר וְהַמֻּתָּר וְהַחַיָּב וְהַפָּטוּר, בִּדְבָרִים שֶׁהַשָּׁעָה צְרִיכָה לָהֶם, כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיוּ קְרוֹבִין לְמַדַּע מִי שְׁאֵינוּ יָכוֹל לֵירַד לְעָמְקוֹ שֶׁלַּתַּלְמוּד. וְזוֹ הִיא מְלֶאכֶת ה' שֶׁעָשׂוּ בָּהּ כָּל גְּאוֹנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, מִיּוֹם שֶׁחֻבַּר הַתַּלְמוּד וְעַד זְמָן זֶה, שְׁהוּא שָׁנָה שְׁמִינִית אַחַר מֵאָה וְאֶלֶף לְחָרְבָּן.

They also compiled treatises on judicial decisions concerning that which is forbidden, or permitted, guilt or innocence, matters which were the need of the hour, so as to keep in touch with education, even he who is not capable of penetrating the depths of the Talmud. Of such was the Godly work of the Gaonim in Israel from the close of the Talmud even till this time, which is in the eighth year after the eleventh century since the destruction of the (Second) Temple, and which is also the year four thousand nine hundred and thirty-seven since the creation of the world.

40 מ

וּבַזְּמָן הַזֶּה תָּכְפוּ צָרוֹת יְתֵרוֹת, וְדָחֲקָה שָׁעָה אֶת הַכֹּל, וְאָבְדָה חָכְמַת חֲכָמֵינוּ, וּבִינַת נְבוֹנֵינוּ נִסְתַּתְּרָה; לְפִיכָּךְ אוֹתָן הַפֵּרוּשִׁין וְהַתְּשׁוּבוֹת וְהַהֲלָכוֹת שֶׁחִבְּרוּ הַגְּאוֹנִים, וְרָאוּ שְׁהֶם דְּבָרִים מְבֹאָרִים, נִתְקַשּׁוּ בְּיָמֵינוּ, וְאֵין מֵבִין עִנְיְנֵיהֶם כָּרָאוּי אֵלָא מְעַט בְּמִסְפָּר. וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר, הַתַּלְמוּד עַצְמוֹ: הַבַּבְלִי, וְהַיְּרוּשְׁלְמִי, וְסִפְרָא, וְסִפְרֵי, וְהַתּוֹסֶפְתּוֹת – שְׁהֶן צְרִיכִין דַּעַת רְחָבָה וְנֶפֶשׁ חֲכָמָה וּזְמָן אָרוּךְ, וְאַחַר כָּךְ יִוָּדַע מֵהֶן הַדֶּרֶךְ הַנְּכוֹחָה בַּדְּבָרִים הָאֲסוּרִין וְהַמֻּתָּרִין וּשְׁאָר דִּינֵי תּוֹרָה הֵיאַךְ הִיא.

In this age, with afflictions mightily intensified, the pressure of the hour weighing heavily upon everybody, when the wisdom of our wise did perish and the prudence of our prudent was hid, all commentaries, treatises, and responsa which the Gaonim compiled and considered by them as clear text are preplexities in our day and only a select few comprehend the subject matter thereof, not to speak of the Talmud itself, both the Babylonian and the Jerusalemean, the Sifra, Sifre and Tosefta, which require a broad understanding, a soul endowed with wisdom and lengthy reflection whenafter one may find the right path therein, to ascertain the things which are forbidden and the things which are permitted, or to fathom the how and why of the other laws of the Torah.

41 מא

וּמִפְּנֵי זֶה נָעַרְתִּי חָצְנִי, אֲנִי מֹשֶׁה בֵּירִבִּי מַיְמוֹן הַסְּפָרַדִּי, וְנִשְׁעַנְתִּי עַל הַצּוּר בָּרוּךְ הוּא, וּבִינוֹתִי בְּכָל אֵלּוּ הַסְּפָרִים; וְרָאִיתִי לְחַבַּר דְּבָרִים הַמִּתְבָּרְרִים מִכָּל אֵלּוּ הַחִבּוּרִין, בְּעִנְיַן הָאָסוּר וְהַמֻּתָּר וְהַטָּמֵא וְהַטָּהוֹר עִם שְׁאָר דִּינֵי תּוֹרָה: כֻּלָּן בְּלָשׁוֹן בְּרוּרָה וְדֶרֶךְ קְצָרָה, עַד שֶׁתְּהֶא תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה כֻּלָּהּ סְדוּרָה בְּפִי הַכֹּל – בְּלֹא קֻשְׁיָה וְלֹא פֵּרוּק, וְלֹא זֶה אוֹמֵר בְּכֹה וְזֶה אוֹמֵר בְּכֹה, אֵלָא דְּבָרִים בְּרוּרִים קְרוֹבִים נְכוֹנִים, עַל פִּי הַמִּשְׁפָּט אֲשֶׁר יִתְבָּאַר מִכָּל אֵלּוּ הַחִבּוּרִין וְהַפֵּרוּשִׁין הַנִּמְצָאִים מִיְּמוֹת רַבֵּנוּ הַקָּדוֹשׁ וְעַד עַכְשָׁו.

Therefore, have I, Moses son of Maimon, of Spain, girded up my loins, and, supporting myself upon the Rock, blessed be He! made a comprehensive study of all those books and minded myself to construct out of all these compilations a clear summary on the subject of that which is forbidden or permitted, defiled or clean along with the other laws of the Torah, the whole scope in pure language and concise style, so that the Oral Torah be entirely methodical in the mouth of everybody, without query and without repartee, without the contentious thus of one and such of another, but clear text, cohesive, correct, in harmony with the law which is defined out of all these existing compilations and commentaries from the days of our Holy Master till now;

42 מב

עַד שֶׁיִּהְיוּ כָּל הַדִּינִין גְּלוּיִין לַקָּטָן וְלַגָּדוֹל בְּדִין כָּל מִצְוָה וּמִצְוָה, וּבְדִין כָּל הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁתִּקְּנוּ חֲכָמִים וּנְבִיאִים: כְּלָלוֹ שֶׁלַּדָּבָר, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יְהֶא אָדָם צָרִיךְ לְחִבּוּר אַחֵר בָּעוֹלָם בְּדִין מִדִּינֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; אֵלָא יִהְיֶה חִבּוּר זֶה מְקַבֵּץ לְתוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה כֻּלָּהּ, עִם הַתַּקָּנוֹת וְהַמִּנְהָגוֹת וְהַגְּזֵרוֹת שֶׁנַּעֲשׂוּ מִיְּמוֹת מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ וְעַד חִבּוּר הַתַּלְמוּד, וּכְמוֹ שֶׁפֵּרְשׁוּ לָנוּ הַגְּאוֹנִים בְּכָל חִבּוּרֵיהֶן, שֶׁחִבְּרוּ אַחַר הַתַּלְמוּד. לְפִיכָּךְ קָרָאתִי שֵׁם חִבּוּר זֶה מִשְׁנֵה תּוֹרָה – לְפִי שֶׁאָדָם קוֹרֶא תּוֹרָה שֶׁבִּכְתָב תְּחִלָּה, וְאַחַר כָּךְ קוֹרֶא בְּזֶה, וְיוֹדֵעַ מִמֶּנּוּ תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה כֻּלָּהּ, וְאֵינוּ צָרִיךְ לִקְרוֹת סֵפֶר אַחֵר בֵּינֵיהֶם.

so that all laws be open to young and old, whether they be laws concerning each and every commandment or whether they be laws concerning matters instituted by scholars and prophets. The main object of the matter being, that no man shall have a need of any other compilation in the world for any law of the laws of Israel, but this compilation shall be a cyclopedia of the whole Oral Torah together with a code of the statutes, customs and edicts which were enacted since the days of Moses our Master until the close of the Talmud, even as they were interpreted for us by the Gaonim in all their compilations which were compiled by them since the Talmudic era. Therefore, have I named this compilation Mishnah Torah; for, when one studies Holy Writ first and thereafter reads this Work, he obtains herefrom a complete knowledge of the Oral Torah, having no need to read any other book in between them.

43 מג

וְרָאִיתִי לְחַלַּק חִבּוּר זֶה הֲלָכוֹת הֲלָכוֹת בְּכָל עִנְיָן וְעִנְיָן, וַאֲחַלַּק הַהֲלָכוֹת לִפְרָקִים שֶׁבְּאוֹתוֹ עִנְיָן; וְכָל פֵּרֶק וּפֵרֶק אֲחַלַּק אוֹתוֹ לַהֲלָכוֹת קְטַנּוֹת, כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיוּ סְדוּרִין עַל פֶּה.

I have also minded myself to divide this work in treatises, each treatise comprising a given subject; the treatises were subdivided into chapters, and the chapters into small sections, so that it may serve as an index suitable to memorize it by heart.

44 מד

אֵלּוּ הַהֲלָכוֹת שֶׁבְּכָל עִנְיָן וְעִנְיָן – יֵשׁ מֵהֶן הֲלָכוֹת שְׁהֶן מִשְׁפְּטֵי מִצְוָה אַחַת בִּלְבָד, וְהִיא הַמִּצְוָה שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ דִּבְרֵי קַבָּלָה הַרְבֵּה וְהִיא עִנְיָן בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ; וְיֵשׁ מֵהֶן הֲלָכוֹת שְׁהֶן כּוֹלְלִין מִשְׁפְּטֵי מִצְווֹת הַרְבֵּה, אִם יִהְיוּ אוֹתָן הַמִּצְווֹת כֻּלָּן בְּעִנְיָן אֶחָד: מִפְּנֵי שֶׁחִלּוּק חִבּוּר זֶה הוּא לְפִי הָעִנְיָנִים לֹא לְפִי מִנְיַן הַמִּצְווֹת, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאַר לַקּוֹרֶא בּוֹ.

The range of the treatises of each and every subject varies; some embrace only the laws of a single commandment, as for example, a commandment around which much traditional matter was constructed, which is in reality a subject by itself; other treatises embrace the laws of many commandments, if they are commandments concerning one subject; because the division of this compilation is according to subjects, not according to the number of commandments; as it appears plainly to the reader.

45 מה

וּמִנְיַן מִצְווֹת שֶׁלַּתּוֹרָה הַנּוֹהֲגוֹת לְדוֹרוֹת, שֵׁשׁ מֵאוֹת וּשְׁלוֹשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה מִצְווֹת: מֵהֶן מִצְווֹת עֲשֵׂה מָאתַיִם שְׁמוֹנֶה וְאַרְבָּעִים, סִימָן לָהֶן מִנְיַן אֵבָרָיו שֶׁלָּאָדָם; וּמֵהֶן מִצְווֹת לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה שְׁלוֹשׁ מֵאוֹת חָמֵשׁ וְשִׁשִּׁים, סִימָן לָהֶן מִנְיַן יְמוֹת הַחַמָּה.

The number of the commandments of the Torah, which are established for all generations, is six hundred and thirteen, of which two hundred and forty eight are mandatory; a numerical comparison to the members in a human body, and three hundred and sixty-five prohibitive, a numerical comparison to the days of the solar year.