The…redactors of the Talmud…were more than editors – that is, they did not just correct and arrange contents and style in conformity with set standards; they were partners in creation. They provided lengthy explanatory notes, completed defective statements, and supplemented the text with passages of their own. Above all, they initiated a new (rather, old and new) awareness that the discursive, too, deserves to be preserved, that how one arrives at a conclusion has importance beyond the pedagogic lesson of knowing how to arrive at new conclusions in the future. Disputation is an activity of the human mind and, as such, deserves to be known, studied, and explored. The redactors became masters of this genre of learning and influenced subsequent rabbinic learning up to this day.

David Weiss Halivni, Midrash, Mishnah, and Gemara: The Jewish Predilection for Justified Law (Cambridge, MA & London, UK: Harvard University Press, 1986), 3.

Advertisements