The Talmud is referred as סש ,that are the first initials of the Hebrew word ששה סרריס Sheeshah Sedarim, which means Six Orders ~ the Six Orders of the Mishnah on which the Torah is based.
Because there are two Gemaras, one from Israel and one from Babylonia, there are two Talmuds. The תלמזד ידזשלמי Talmud Yerusalayim, the Jerusalem Talmud, contains the Mishnah, along with the Gemara, from Israel.
The תלמזד בבלי Talmud Bavli, the Babylonian Talmud, contains Mishnah and Gemara from Babylonia.
A tractate which is volume of the Talmud is called a מסכת Masechet or plural Masechtot, the Babylonian Talmud has thirty- seven Masechtot, the Jerusalem Tamud gas thirty- nine Masechtot.
The Talmud is a massive collection of legal interpretation, case law, and legal precedents, this along with history, biography, ethical teachings, Jewish thoughts and story- legends.
Sometimes the arguments in Talmud are dificult to follow because the discussions often wander of from the starting point before returning to the orginal question.
The most fasinating two succeding lines of a Gemara in the Talmud, is were two Sages who lived hundreds of years apart seems to be arguing with and responding to each other over a particular issue.
However, Talmud is studied for practical applications of Jewish laws, en for mind expanding challenges in logic and reasoning, for its total immersion in Jewish concerns, for its wisdom and insight and for the simple reason to love of learning and growing.
What is the Oral Torah?
The Torah Shebe'al Peh is presented in the Talmud, but is not the whole Talmud.
In Sh'mot 24:12 it indicates that the giving of the Torah Sh'leimah, this is the whole Torah, the Written and the Oral Torah, this was the first set of tablets given to Moshe Rabbeinu on Har Sinai.
The Talmud contains two books, the Mishna and Gemara. The Mishna collection of the Oral Law and Jewish tradition.
The Mishnah is the first compilation of the Oral Law and it took over a period of 400 years, from 200 B.C.E until 200 C.E, this was at the first beginning of the third century of the Common Era, various law were put together in one collection, by Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi.
The Mishnah, collects all Jewish legal material from the post- Torah era, and is dvivded in Six Oders and each of which is subdivided into Tractates. There are sixty- three separatetractes in the Mishnah.
These are the titles of the Six Orders of the Mishnah,
1. זרעיס zera'im, this means Seeds, and deals with agriculture and tithing in the land of Israel during the time of beit HaMikdash( eleven tractates) the first tractate of the Order is, ברכות Berachot, which means blessings, and deals with a whole different subject, prayer in Shul and the way HaShem was worshiped after the desruction of the Holy Temple, also contains blessings for various occasions.
2. מרעד Mo'ed , Festivals: deals with the laws of observing the Shabbat and festivals ( twelve tractates).
3. בשיס Nasim, Women: deals primarily with the laws if betrothal, marriage and divorce ( seven tractates).
4. בזיקיך Nezikin,which means Damages, and deals with civil and criminal law. This Order contains one tractate of a very different nature: פדקי אברת Pirkae Avot, these are the Ethics of the Fathers, and is a collection of very powerful ethical teachings that has been studied with devotion and love from the time it was first compiled ( ten tractates).
5. קדרשיס Kedoshim, means Holy Things, and deals with the rules of bringing sacrifices to the Holy Temple ( twelve tractates).
6. תהדרת Taharot, Purification, this deals with laws of purity and impurity ( twelve tractates).
The Rabbinic Sages who are quoted in the Mishnah are called Tannaim, which means Teachers.
Its a Mitzvah
When I asked the question, what a Mitzvah is, at least eight out of ten say its " Doing a good deed " , but a Mitzvah is far more than that.
Mitzvahs are commandments, given to us by HaShem to Moshe on mount Sinai. In Hasidic teachings if has a far deeper meaning, performing a Mitzvah means having a connection. There are 613 Mitzvot, that means in 613 ways we are connected to HaShem, performing a Mitzvah is a direct line to Him.
And as children, we didn't understand the meaning and the connection, that this is the way we get close to HaShem. Maybe not all Mitzvahs make sense, does a Mezuzah on our doorposts make sense? Of course not, but we all have Mezuzahs on our doorposts throughout our homes!
What I find the most important in Jewish upbringing is to educate our children from an early age, growing up and understand the meaning why we observe the Mitzvot.
It doesn't alway have to make sense, or its something we have to do, or need to do. No, its because this is what HaShem wants us to do, and we come close and it stenghthening our bond with Him.
Its not a question of, " Do we need to do a Mitzvah "? But more that we want to do it, we want to serve HaShem, we want to have a connection with Him, but most of all we enjoy doing these Mitzvahs and this way it makes more sense.