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For many people today, the Talmud may seem inaccessible. First of all, it's very large, with 5,894 pages. And second, it's written mostly in Aramaic. And third, the structure of the Talmud page is not like most books (in fact, it has been compared to the structure of...a web page!) Finally, discussions in one tractate refer to others, so that you're assumed to know the whole thing before you start.
Thankfully, there are now excellent versions for people most comfortable in English, including one by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, known also as Even Yisrael. They're not just translations - these editions explain and guide you through as you enter the intellectual, religious, and legal discourse of the sages and commentators over centuries.
The Steinsaltz Talmud blends the traditional commentaries into a running text that's perhaps easiest for those of us used to reading a text from start to finish instead of moving around on the page in non-linear fashion. Rabbi Steinsaltz first produced a Hebrew edition, shown here, followed by an English edition for some tractates, shown below.
Follow the link to buy either individual volumes or the whole set.
We personally like the Steinsaltz Talmud best, because it includes a unique blended translation and commentary to help us steer our course through the Sea of Talmud. (Yes, that's one name for it. It's that big.) The Steinsaltz Talmud edition is truly a masterpiece. It even has margin notes on words Rashi used in Old French, geography, short biographies of the rabbis taking part in the current page's discussions, etc. The Steinsaltz Talmud is also a beautifully produced book, with gilt edges, tassel bookmark, and all the trappings of a quality book meant to last.
There are other fine editions of the Talmud here at the Jewish Book Mall, including traditional Vilna Shas sets, the Soncino print or CD-ROM editions, and the Artscroll Schottenstein edition. Check them out at our Talmud page.
More Adin Steinsaltz Books!
Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz is one of the most prolific writers on Jewish subjects today. Here are more of his books, including books about the Talmud, Jewish spirituality, and many other topics.
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