A Tour Of A Daf Gemara
The Talmud is vast and understanding what’s on a page is an important step towards getting grounded in your learning. Join Rabbi Yitzhak Zuriel as he maps out the “daf” and gives detailed explanations of each item found on the page.
For each item, explore its author and background, his purpose in writing that text, how and when to use it in learning gemara, common abbreviations used, earlier sources that are commonly cited, and illustrative examples.
A Tour Of A Daf Gemara: Basics: the Talmud text itself; Rashi; Tosafot
In this first session we will give a very basic overview of a typical daf of gemara, which will include its main features: the title line at the top, the gemara text, the commentary of Rashi, and the comments of Tosafot. We will explain some historical background, the purposes or intention of each item, and common features, terms, and abbreviations and acronyms used by them.
A Tour Of A Daf Gemara: The major referencing works on the Daf
A page in the Vilna Shas printed format of the Talmud Bavli features three different referencing systems: (1) cross references to other places in the Talmud (Masoret haShas); (2) references to verses in the Tanach (Bible) (Torah Ohr); and (3) references to the subsequent halachic psak literature (Ein Mishpat Ner Mitzvah).
We will discuss each of these, seeing where you find them on the Daf, some historical background, a little about how I suggest to use them, and frequently used terms, abbreviations, and acronyms used in each of them.
A Tour Of A Daf Gemara: More items in the margins of the page
In this session we will talk about the third referencing system found on the gemara page, the Ein Mishpat Ner Mitzva, which gives references to works of psak halacha.
Then we will move on to הגהות הב”ח, who provides notes and amendations to the gemara text as well as that of Rashi and Tosafot.
And we will also talk briefly about the commentary of Rabbenu Hananel and other commentaries found in the margin for different tractates of Talmud.
A Tour Of A Daf Gemara: The Acharonim that made it onto the Daf
In this final session of our series we will become acquainted with two works found in most masechtot in the margins of the Daf, both of which were written by acharonim, i.e. in relatively recent times (18th and 19th centuries CE): הגהות הגר”א and גליון הש”ס.
And to conclude our tour of the Daf, we will mention other (earlier) works that also appear in the margins of the Daf, in different masechtot, and point out two tractates whose presentation of the Daf is significantly different from the standard Vilna presentation. Finally, we will mention the major works that appear in the back of full editions of tractates of the Vilna Shas and do not appear on the Daf.
Rabbi Yitzhak Zuriel has been enjoying guiding students in how to learn and understand Talmud at WebYeshiva.org since its founding. He began his teaching career as a teacher and educational director at Michlelet Bruria in the 1980s. For over 20 years, he has been working as a software engineer in Jerusalem, and during that time has been an editor and contributor to the company NDS's Torah journal, Chiddushei Torah@NDS, that was published annually from 1996-2014 . He and his wife reside in Ma'ale Adumim and are parents to five children and have many grandchildren.