A report on Talmudic academies in Babylonia

A depiction of Rabbi Ashi teaching at the Sura Academy

Called "Babylonia" in Jewish sources, at the time otherwise known as Asōristān (under the Sasanian Empire) or Iraq (under the Muslim caliphate until the 11th century).

- Talmudic academies in Babylonia
A depiction of Rabbi Ashi teaching at the Sura Academy

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Nehardea

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Nehardea or Nehardeah (נהרדעא "river of knowledge") was a city from the area called by ancient Jewish sources Babylonia, situated at or near the junction of the Euphrates with the Nahr Malka (the Royal Canal), one of the earliest and most prominent centers of Babylonian Judaism.

The first page of the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Berachot, folio 2a. The center column contains the Talmud text, beginning with a section of Mishnah. The Gemara begins 14 lines down with the abbreviation גמ (gimmel-mem) in larger type. Mishnah and Gemara sections alternate throughout the Talmud. The blocks of text on either side are the Rashi and Tosafot commentaries, printed in Rashi script. Other notes and cross references are in the margins.

Talmud

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Central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (halakha) and Jewish theology.

Central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (halakha) and Jewish theology.

The first page of the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Berachot, folio 2a. The center column contains the Talmud text, beginning with a section of Mishnah. The Gemara begins 14 lines down with the abbreviation גמ (gimmel-mem) in larger type. Mishnah and Gemara sections alternate throughout the Talmud. The blocks of text on either side are the Rashi and Tosafot commentaries, printed in Rashi script. Other notes and cross references are in the margins.
An early printing of the Talmud (Ta'anit 9b); with commentary by Rashi
A page of a medieval Jerusalem Talmud manuscript, from the Cairo Geniza
A full set of the Babylonian Talmud
Talmudic saying on the Divine Presence
Koren Talmud Bavli
The Talmud on display in the Jewish Museum of Switzerland brings together parts from the first two Talmud prints by Daniel Bomberg and Ambrosius Froben.
Jewish Scene I
Jewish Scene II
A Controversy Whatsoever on Talmud<ref>See Schleicher's paintings at MutualArt.</ref>
At the Rabbi's
Jews studying Talmud, París, c. 1880–1905
Samuel Hirszenberg, Talmudic School, c. 1895–1908
Ephraim Moses Lilien, The Talmud Students, engraving, 1915
Maurycy Trębacz, The Dispute, c. 1920–1940
Solomon's Haggadoth, bronze relief from the Knesset Menorah, Jerusalem, by Benno Elkan, 1956
Hilel's Teachings, bronze relief from the Knesset Menorah
Jewish Mysticism: Jochanan ben Sakkai, bronze relief from the Knesset Menorah
Yemenite Jews studying Torah in Sana&#039;a
Oz veHadar edition of the first page of the Babylonian Talmud, with elements numbered in a spiraling rainbowː (1) Joshua Boaz ben Simon Baruch's Mesorat haShas, (2) Joel Sirkis's Hagahot (3) Akiva Eiger's Gilyon haShas, (4) Completion of Solomon ben Isaac's commentary from the Soncino printing, (5) Nissim ben Jacob's commentary, (6) Hananel ben Hushiel's commentary, (7) a survey of the verses quoted, (8) Joshua Boaz ben Simon Baruch's Ein Mishpat/Ner Mitzvah, (9) the folio and page numbers, (10) the tractate title, (11) the chapter number, (12), the chapter heading, (13), Solomon ben Isaac's commentary, (14) the Tosafot, (15) the Mishnah, (16) the Gemara, (17) an editorial footnote.

The process of "Gemara" proceeded in what were then the two major centers of Jewish scholarship, Galilee and Babylonia.

Geonim

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Geonim (גאונים; ; also transliterated Gaonim, singular Gaon) were the presidents of the two great Babylonian Talmudic Academies of Sura and Pumbedita, in the Abbasid Caliphate, and were the generally accepted spiritual leaders of the Jewish community worldwide in the early medieval era, in contrast to the Resh Galuta (exilarch) who wielded secular authority over the Jews in Islamic lands.

An exhibit depicting Exilarch Huna at the Beit Hatfutsot

Exilarch

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The leader of the Jewish community in Persian Mesopotamia during the era of the Parthians, Sasanians and Abbasid Caliphate up until the Mongol invasion of Baghdad in 1258, with intermittent gaps due to ongoing political developments.

The leader of the Jewish community in Persian Mesopotamia during the era of the Parthians, Sasanians and Abbasid Caliphate up until the Mongol invasion of Baghdad in 1258, with intermittent gaps due to ongoing political developments.

An exhibit depicting Exilarch Huna at the Beit Hatfutsot

Within the Sasanian Empire, the exilarch was the political equivalent of the Catholicos of the Christian Church of the East, and was thus responsible for community-specific organizational tasks such as running the rabbinical courts, collecting taxes from Jewish communities, supervising and providing financing for the Talmudic academies in Babylonia, and the charitable re-distribution and financial assistance to needy members of the exile community.

Jewish calendar, showing Adar II between 1927 and 1948

Hebrew calendar

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Lunisolar calendar used today for Jewish religious observance, and as an official calendar of the state of Israel.

Lunisolar calendar used today for Jewish religious observance, and as an official calendar of the state of Israel.

Jewish calendar, showing Adar II between 1927 and 1948
The Trumpeting Place inscription, a stone (2.43×1 m) with Hebrew inscription "To the Trumpeting Place" is believed to be a part of the Second Temple.
A bronze Shabbat candlestick holder made in Mandatory Palestine in the 1940s.
The Jewish calendar's reference point is traditionally held to be about one year before the Creation of the world.
A shofar made from a ram's horn is traditionally blown in observance of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish civic year.

From the 1st-10th centuries, the center of world Judaism was in the Middle East (primarily Iraq and Palestine), and Jews in these regions also used Seleucid era dating, which they called the "Era of Contracts [or Documents]".

Abba Arikha

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Jewish amora of the 3rd century.

Jewish amora of the 3rd century.

With him began the long period of ascendancy of the great Talmudic Academies in Babylonia around the year 220.

Mir Yeshiva (Jerusalem) – largest yeshiva in the world

Yeshiva

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Traditional Jewish educational institution focused on the study of Rabbinic literature, primarily the Talmud and halacha (Jewish law), while Torah and Jewish philosophy are studied in parallel.

Traditional Jewish educational institution focused on the study of Rabbinic literature, primarily the Talmud and halacha (Jewish law), while Torah and Jewish philosophy are studied in parallel.

Mir Yeshiva (Jerusalem) – largest yeshiva in the world
A typical bet midrash – Yeshivas Ner Yisroel, Baltimore
Chavrusas in study – Yeshiva Gedola of Carteret
Morning seder, Or-Yisrael - a yeshiva founded by the Chazon Ish
Shiur in memory of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein at Yeshivat Har Etzion, a Hesder yeshiva
Rabbinical students in shiur, Jerusalem
Shiur klali, Slabodka Yeshiva
A depiction of Sura (from Beit Hatefutsot)
Volozhin yeshiva, “mother of the yeshivas”
Mir yeshiva
Ponevezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, Israel
Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva, now a national monument
The Breslov Yeshiva in Mea Shearim, Jerusalem.
Satmar Yeshiva in Brooklyn, New York.
Bobov Kollel in Jerusalem
Geula branch of Porat Yosef Yeshiva.
Kisse Rahamim yeshivah, Bnei Brak
JTS building in Manhattan
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Beth Medrash Govoha, Lakewood, New Jersey – largest yeshiva outside Israel.
Mercaz Harav, Jerusalem
Kollel Birkat Yitzhak, Moscow
Mir Yeshiva in Brooklyn
Mincha, Yeshiva Centre, Melbourne
Talmud Torah, Russia, 1937
Yeshiva High School, Tel Aviv, 1938
"Cheder"-class in Talmud, Tel Aviv, 1946.
Bet Midrash, Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh
Gemara, the first page of tractate Rosh Hashanah
A full set of the Babylonian Talmud
Chavrusas learning beki'ut, recording their summary of each sugya alongside its Mishnah
Set of Mishneh Torah
Cover of the first edition of Mesillat Yesharim.
Chumash with Mikraot Gedolot
Chumash with Yiddish translation

The transference in meaning of the term from the learning session to the institution itself appears to have occurred by the time of the great Talmudic Academies in Babylonia, Sura and Pumbedita, which were known as shte ha-yeshivot (the two colleges).

A depiction of Rav Ashi teaching at the Sura Academy

Rav Ashi

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Babylonian Jewish rabbi, of the sixth generation of amoraim.

Babylonian Jewish rabbi, of the sixth generation of amoraim.

A depiction of Rav Ashi teaching at the Sura Academy
The tomb of Rabbi Ashi on Har Shanan in the Galil mountains in Israel

According to a tradition preserved in the academies, Rav Ashi was born in the same year that Rava (the great teacher of Mahuza) died, and he was the first important teacher in the Talmudic Academies in Babylonia after Rava's death.

Samuel of Nehardea

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Samuel of Nehardea or Samuel bar Abba, often simply called Samuel (Hebrew: שמואל) and occasionally Mar Samuel, was a Jewish Amora of the first generation; son of Abba bar Abba and head of the Yeshiva at Nehardea, Babylonia.

Sura (city)

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Sura was a city in the southern part of the area called by ancient Jewish sources Babylonia, located east of the Euphrates.