The Talmud gets an Index

Posted by Melanie Nathan, Dec 30, 2011

Touting a groundbreaking literary achievement...

A US-based Jewish publisher has produced an alphabetical index to the Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud), a work it describes as “a groundbreaking literary achievement.”  Now the “HaMafteach” (“The Key”), provides a new indexed reference guide to the Talmud.

The Talmud is the 63-volume record of discussions among rabbis that is one of the most sacred ‘books’ in Judaism.

This is the first comprehensive index in over 1,500 years.

The multi-volume Talmud was made to be transmitted orally and has no punctuation or paragraphs. And while there are online sites and electronic methods to search the labyrinthine work, most are difficult to operate or too expensive to use, says an article by Agence France-Presse which we found on The Raw Story.

The author is a 63 year-old Jewish immigration lawyer Daniel Retter, much to the surprise of many, not a learned Rabbi.   However to me it makes sense –  he who has probably  perused the guidelines and indexes of tax laws, immigration laws, rules and case indexing would indeed have the experience to navigate the complexity of such a task.

Retter, who moved to New York when he was a child with his parents who escaped the Holocaust, said it took him seven years to complete the work. “I could not understand why the Talmud did not have an index,” he recently told The New York Times. “I’m a lawyer, and if I want to know the law, I look it up in an index.”

Read more here….