(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
An online, digitized repository of the entire Babylonian Talmud called Hachi Garsinan will be launched on Monday in what its developers have described as a revolution for Talmud study.
Uniquely, the project includes all known textual variants of the Babylonian Talmud and allows researchers, scholars and students to easily compare the different texts side by side, as well as highlighting the differences between each version.
The name, Hachi Garsinan, is an Aramaic term used by the medieval Talmudic scholar Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki, known as Rashi, to indicate that there existed an alternative version of the Talmudic text which made more sense contextually than the standard wording.
The complete text of the Talmud was finally compiled in 500 CE, but textual variations between written manuscripts occurred before the era of the printing press and the first printing of the entire Talmud which took place in Venice in 1523.
According to computer scientist Prof. Yaacov Choueka, who has led the Hachi Garsinan project, the new digitized Talmud is fully searchable by key words, names and phrases; textual comparison is easily accessible, user friendly and available with several options for comparing versions; and texts and documents can be individually downloaded and saved.
Hachi Garsinan, a project of the Friedberg Jewish Manuscript Society of Toronto, is free to use, although it requires registration, and is also available through a mobile app, and along with the digitized text it includes high resolution images of hand-written Talmudic manuscripts from 150 libraries, collections and archives around the world.
“Our project is totally comprehensive and will help everyone who studies the Talmud, from the academic searching for the smallest details to someone learning in the Day Yomi program [of one folio page of Talmud study a day],” Choueka told The Jerusalem Post.
“What we have here is no less a revolution than the printing of the Talmud in 1523 in Venice. It is a unique project and will change the way Talmud is learnt within a few years because it has created the ultimate system for Talmud study.”