Objectives of sugyot - A study of the redaction of the Babylonian Talmud as reflected in three Sugyot of tractate 'Eruvin

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This article presents a novel methodology for the analysis of passages (Sugyot) found in the Babylonian Talmud based upon identifying the objectives of the redaction that guided the editors of that passage. Three different Talmud passages are presented, and the various objectives of the redaction were indicated: First, a passage whose objective was to take the form of ten statements in the name of R. Yirmiyah ben Elazar, though there exist more of his statements. Second, a Sugya dealing with the stylistic use of the expression "and further" (ve'od), in order not to leave the first part of the Mishna without any Talmudic commentary. Third, a section whose objective was to reject the position taken by R. Yossi berabbi Yehuda from being accepted as standard Jewish Law. Were it not for the editorial intervention by the redactors, the law would have been determined by R. Yossi's position. The question is to understand why a Sugya is found as is in the text in contrast to other sources, e.g., parallel passages in the Babylonian Talmud, manuscript readings, the Jerusalem Talmud, the Tosefta, Geonic literature, readings found in medieval and later commentaries, etc. In other words, one must undertake to examine the motives of the editors of a passage when they approached the task of redaction. Thus, it will be possible to solve sundry issues or difficulties that crop up in different passages, as, for instance, in matters of form and style, difficult readings of Halakha and differences in texts. Furthermore, one may determine if and how the deciders of Jewish Law (Poskim) were influenced by the redaction of Sugya.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-264
Number of pages14
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2006


  • Babylonian Talmud
  • Halakhah
  • Methodology
  • Objectives
  • Sugya


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