History of the Talmud XI:

Because the Palestinian Talmud was growing and developing in the Roman Empire, it absorbed more Greek and Latin vocabulary. The Babylonian Talmud, on the other hand, on addition to the many Greek and Latin terms found in the Mishnah, added a larger proportion of Babylonian and Persian words to its linguistic store.

43. When we examine the two Talmuds in terms of style, method and content, we see significant differences between the two. The Babylonian Talmud seems to be more expansive, open, free, and essentially uninhibited in both content and style of expression.

The Babylonian Talmud deals with all aspects of Jewish Law as presented in the Mishnah, except for the Laws of Agriculture, because it was agreed that these laws applied only to the soil of the Land of Israel. The first section of the Laws of Agriculture, being the volume on Brakhot, or Blessings and Prayers is, of course expanded on in the Babylonian Talmud as well.

44. Since Jewish Law is, for all practical purposes, the legal system of a living community, most of its arguments and discussions concern matters that are of concern to people in their everyday life. Even the major classifications indicate this pragmatic nature of the law. Thus, to review the Six Orders, we have:

Zera’im=Agriculture, necessary for Jews living in the land of Israel. The first section, Brakhot=prayers, is universal.
Mo’ed=Holy Days and Festivals.
Nashim=Domestic Relations.
Nezekim=Civil and Criminal Laws.
Kodashim=Temple Service and Sacrifice, as well as
Hullin=Non-sacred slaughter and rules of Kashrut; that is, permitted and forbidden food.
Taharot=Hygiene and Cleanliness.

45. Thus, it seems that all the laws of the Mishnah, the basic constitution of the Jewish nation are laws designed to guide the people in the practical needs of their daily life. If so, then why is the section Kodashim included? The Temple was destroyed in the year 70 and was not rebuilt. There is no practical application of the laws pertaining to the central sanctuary. Why, then is the section on Kodashim a part of the basic laws of Judaism?

One answer is that the laws of the Temple, the Priestly functions and the sacrifices are a part of the Torah and must be studied and dealt with. Another important consideration is that the Jewish People never gave up their hope and expectation that the Temple would be rebuilt. This is expressed thrice daily in our prayers. We must always be familiar with all that takes place in the Temple and study its rules and regulations as if we expect them to be put into practice the day after the restoration of the People of Israel, the rebuilding of the Land of Israel, and the rebuilding and rededication of the Temple, which may take place at any moment. We must, therefore, study the laws of Seder Kodashim.

46 When we turn to examining the Jerusalem Talmud we see distinct differences between it and its companion system in the Babylonian Talmud. Unlike the openness of the Babylonian Talmud, the Palestinian Talmud seems to be inhibited in its forms of expression. It is much smaller in scope, has fewer digressions, and uses a language that is more obscure than that of the Babylonian Talmud. There is also one glaring difference between the two. The section on Temple service, Kodashim is entirely missing from the Palestinian Talmud. Why is this so?

47. The answer to this question lies in the fact that the Palestinian Talmud was the creation of the Sanhedrin of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel, which was a part of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire had become officially Christian around the beginning of the 4th century, probably at the time of the Council of Nicea in 325. The agreement which had been reached between the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church and the Emperor Constantine provided that the Catholic Church would be the official religion of the empire to the exclusion of all other expressions of religious faith. The emperor would be the defender of the faith. Non-Catholic Christians would be declared criminal and eliminated. The only religion other than Catholic Christianity which was recognized as legitimate was Judaism, but it was to be controlled by the State and the Church and maintained in an inferior position.

The Church also had observers and censors overseeing the Jewish community and its institutions and watched with great care the proceedings in the Jewish courts, especially those of the Supreme Sanhedrin.

As far as the Church was concerned, there could be no discussion of the laws of the Temple. The Temple, in Christian Theology, was destroyed by G-d never to be rebuilt again. They would permit no discussion of any topic having to do with the section of Seder Kodashim, except for the laws in Hullin. There is, therefore, no section Kodashim in the Jerusalem Talmud.

Facebook Comment

Recent Posts