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TALMUD (Heb. תַּלְמוּד). The word "Talmud" means primarily "study" or "learning" and is employed in various senses. One refers to the opinions and teachings which disciples acquire from their predecessors in order to expound and explain them (Seder Tanna'im ve-Amora'im; cf. Rashi to Suk. 28b; BM 32a–b, et al.). Another sense comprises the whole body of one's learning; e.g., "He from whom one has acquired the greater part of his Talmud is to be regarded as one's teacher" (BM 33a). A third meaning is in the technical phrase talmud lomar, which is used to indicate a teaching derived from the exegesis of a biblical text. A fourth meaning is the analytical aspect of the commandment of Torah study (cf. Maim., Yad, The Laws of Torah Study 1:11). The word "Talmud" is most commonly used, however, to denote the bodies of teaching consisting largely of the traditions and discussions of the amoraim organized around the text of the *Mishnah of R. *Judah ha-Nasi (see *Talmud, Babylonian, and *Talmud, Jerusalem).

In popular parlance two other phrases are used as alternative names for the Talmud. The first is *Shas, an abbreviation consisting of the initial letters of Shishah Sidrei (Mishnah), i.e., the "Six Orders" (of the Mishnah) which serve as the literary foundation for the talmudim. The second is *Gemara (for a full discussion see Albeck, Mevo ha-Talmud (1969), ch. 1).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.