Sunday, December 2, 2012

Seder Zera'im

I haven't figured out yet the best and most efficient way to upload voice recordings directly to the blog.  For now, please feel free to browse my [shared] Google Drive folder containing all the recordings for Zera'im.

Mishna recordings

As promised, I want to facilitate the learning and mastering of traditional Jewish sources.  One feature that had always been an essential part of any Jew's training in traditional Jewish sources is the reciting of Mishnayot.

The Mishna

So long as we, the Jewish People, was organized into national institutions with authority to decide our own laws, we had a centralized court system called the Bet Din haGadol.  Any legal question would be answered uniformly by the Bet Din haGadol, as one single voice.  Although the decisions may have developed through a process that had many disputes and drifts along the way, the end result (after a vote was taken and the majority opinion was adopted) was unified.

With the destruction of the Second Temple, the Bet Din haGadol was transferred to Yabhne by Rabban Yohanan Ben Zakkay.  However, this arrangement did not enjoy the same degree of centralization found earlier in the Sanhedrin in Yerushalayim.  Four or five generations later, the Chief Justice of the Bet Din haGadol, Rebbi Yehuda HaNassi, did something unprecedented.  He published, for the general public, a record of some of the internal notes of the main deliberations of recent sessions of Bet Din haGadol (for the most part, he did not go beyond the last Bet Din haGadol in Yerushalayim -- one that had Bet Shammay and Bet Hillel).  These records were compiled into a collection known as the Mishna.

Ever since, the Mishna has been the framework for any discussion in Jewish Law.  The Talmud, for instance, is structured around the Mishna, discussing its sources, authors of its statements, and expanding its rulings.

The Mishna was composed in a way that is meant to facilitate memorization.  Oftentimes, clarity is sacrificed for the sake of brevity.


Although there are many editions of the Mishna, Sephardic communities in the last few generations have always used the Livorno edition, which preserves the traditional pronunciation of terms in its fully vocalized text.

I have so far recorded the first five volumes (out of six) of the Mishna, reciting the text from the Livorno edition in the traditional Syrian tune.  Each chapter is another clip.

Primarily, I did this to allow myself to review the Mishna during my commuting to and from work.  I would be very happy if this helps other as well.

I will be uploading the recordings gradually, starting with the volume of Zera'im.



This blog is my vehicle to share with the world materials, ideas, and insights relating to Tora.  I believe that God's gift to humanity -- Tora, and the Jewish People -- must be presented in a way that is relevant to today's audience.  The content is timeless; it is the packaging that needs adapting.  As our Rabbis said: "Im Req Hu -- Mikkem Hu!"  If the Tora is void of meaning, that is YOUR problem (as presenters).  Not the Tora's.

With this blog, I intend to share a Tora that I believe is relevant to today more than ever.

At the same time, the quintessential ingredient for sane Judaism is a natural Jewish identity.  A Jew should feel that Jewish history is the story of his or her family; that Jewish Law are regulations of members in his or her club; and that each and every Jew is a distant cousin (both present, past as well as future).  This is why, in this blog, the other objective is to be as faithful as possible to Jewish tradition.  For instance, this blog will try to facilitate the mastering and learning of traditional Jewish sources.

I hope this blog is helpful for those who are seeking what I am claiming to offer.