Beginning next week I will be giving a new series of shiurim on WebYeshiva entitled "Who Wrote the Commentaries on the Talmud." The shiurim are broadcast live at 10:00pm (Israel time) on Wednesdays, and all shiurim are recorded and available for download by the day after the shiur. Previous series of shiurim that I have given on WebYeshiva are available via this link. Participants must register to join these classes, but all classes are free. So go ahead and sign up!
Here are the topics and personalities I will attempt to cover over the next 7 weeks. Anyone who has any interesting sources, or insights is welcome to contact me and share them. For me, these shiurim are learning as much as teaching, and I very much look forward to learning and teaching these classes.
Jan 16: History of Talmud
• We will look at the history of the Talmud, who were its authors, when was it first written down (and why) and the history of the various printings of the Talmud, and the geography of a page of Talmud.
Jan 23: What’s on the Page?
• We will look at the small commentaries and notes on the page of the Talmud - what they do, who wrote them, and why they are there. These include Torah Or, Ein Mishpat Ner Mitzvah and Masoret ha-Shas, Gilyon HaShas of Rabbi Akiva Eiger, and Hagahot HaBach
Jan 30: Rabbeinu Gershom
• Rabbeinu Gershom is the founder of Ashkenazi Torah scholarship. Better known for his "decrees" than his Talmudic commentary, he was hugely influential on everyone who came after him. We will look at his life, his works, and his long-lasting influence on Ashkanazi (and world) Jewry.
Feb 6: Tosefot/Rabbeinu Tam/R”I
• The school of Tosefot, founded by Rashi's grandsons and great-grandsons, has shaped all future Talmud study. We will look at the personalities who shaped Tosefot, primarily Rabbeinu Tam and R"I (Rabbeinu Yitzchak). And we will try to examine the task that Tosefot set themselves in their Talmudic commentary.
Feb 13: Rabbeinu Asher ben Yechiel (Rosh)
• Rabbeinu Asher ben Yechiel (the Rosh) was the bridge between Ashkenazi and Sefardi halachic practice and custom. His halachic commentary on the Talmud is one of the three 'pillars' on which all later halacha is built. His life story is also the story of antisemtism and persecution. We will also look at the famous forgery “Besamim Rosh”, falsely attributed to the Rosh.
Feb 20: Mordechai ben Hillel
• The commentary of Rabbi Mordechai ben Hillel (known simply as 'Mordechai') is printed at the back of the Talmud. He was one of the most influential Ashkenazi halachicists, whose influence reached as far as Italy. He died a martyrs death at the age of 48 in the Rintfleisch Massacres. We will also look at the Mordechai’s teacher, Rabbi Meir (Maharam) of Rotenberg, who was kidnapped and eventually died in prison refusing to allow the Jewish community to ransom him.
Feb 27: Rabbi Shmuel Eidels (Maharsha)
• The commentary of Rabbi Shmuel Eidels (Maharsha) is printed at the back of the Talmud. (Virtually) uniquely he writes on both the halachic and the aggadic (non-halachic) portions of the Talmud. His life story casts light on 16th century Polish Jewry. We will look at both his life and his commentary.