Last week, Koren Publishers and Sefaria, a free online library of Jewish texts, announced a technology partnership and integration involving The Noé Edition Koren Talmud Bavli. The partnership provides online users of the site with the Aramaic text of the Talmud (Babylonian Talmud), along with Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz’s clear, contemporary translation and commentary from the Koren Talmud Bavli. Thus far, the print edition of The Noé Edition Koren Talmud Bavli has released twenty-eight of 42 volumes.
“We are thrilled to have Sefaria as our partners in making Rabbi Steinsaltz’s teachings on the Talmud more accessible to people around the world,” says publisher Matthew Miller. “Since we launched The Noé Edition Koren Talmud Bavli in 2012, it has been integrated into classrooms, shiurim, shuls, homes and libraries around the globe. The time has come to adapt the print edition into the digital world. This symbiotic relationship between print and digital will open the door to Talmud learning, especially to the younger generation.”
The complexity of the Talmudic text and its elements requires much concentration, analytical thinking, and an understanding of a particular textual methodology. This mixture of skills, combined with the shorthand debates in Aramaic in which the Talmud is written, and the seemingly-confusing layout of the traditional Vilna pages of the Talmud often creates a daunting, challenging experience for Talmud learners.
The clean, orderly layout of the print edition of the Koren Talmud Bavli, enables learners of all levels to delve into the Talmud at their own comfort level, and get a deeper understanding of the text. Since Rabbi Steinsaltz began the monumental endeavor of translating the Talmud into Hebrew, accessibility for a broad audience has consistently been Rabbi Steinsaltz’s mission.
Have a look at this page from Bava Batra 17a, which we just completed in the Daf Yomi cycle:
The text is broken up into short paragraphs by concept and theme; the bold phrases indicate direct translations from the Aramaic, while the regular text fills in the gaps to create complete sentences (instead of that shorthand dialogue) and a comprehensive flow of ideas. There are vowels and punctuation (Menukad and Mufsak) which makes reading the text a lot easier and more clear. Additionally, the notes and commentary along the margins provide a treasure trove of information that enhance one’s understanding and appreciation of the world in which our ancient rabbis lived.
Sefaria’s announcement this week, Setting the Talmud Free, detailed the exciting release of The William Davidson Talmud, a free digital edition of the Talmud with parallel translations and more. Rabbi Steinsaltz’s English and Hebrew translations and interpolated textual explanations will be available with a Creative Commons Non-Commercial license, making them free for use and re-use. This online version will not include the explanatory notes, vowelized text in Koren font or the Daf Vilna Menukad, which remains proprietary to Koren Publishers Jerusalem.
As traditional print book publishers, we too, are excited about this new endeavor and are delighted by the enthusiastic responses we’ve already seen on social media.
For those who wish to get the full Koren Talmud Bavli experience, subscriptions are still available to the print edition of The Noé Edition of the Koren Talmud Bavli, PDF editions, and discounted advance purchase of the entire set.