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I'm new to Mishna study, and I want to participate in a communal effort to study Mishna. I picked out a section to study, and now I need to find a convenient resource to learn from. I don't necessarily have time to make a comprehensive study of all of the relevant commentaries and Talmud, but I do want to understand what's going on in the Mishna. I prefer resources that include English translation, and I'm open to both in-print and electronic resources.

What resource would you recommend, and why?

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    If you can read minimally Hebrew, Tif'eret Israel is the best, concise and clear and is very deep, permits also profound understanding. – kouty Mar 25 at 14:22
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    Your knowledge looks pretty extensive for someone who is knew to Mishnah – yosefkorn Mar 25 at 14:38
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    @yosefkorn The point of view expressed in a question need not be related to the persona of the author. – Isaac Moses Mar 25 at 14:41
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    @kouty add that as an answer - 100% Tiferes Yisroel if the learner can understand hebrew – user15253 Mar 25 at 14:43
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    Only problem with the Tiferes Yisroel -- if translating a less-common plant, animal, or tool, you'd need a Yiddish dictionary. (Or bypass the Tiferes Yisroel on those and whip out your Jastrow.) – Shalom Mar 27 at 9:23
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I have learned the entire Mishna based on the Artscroll Yad Avraham series in English. I also own many of the newer Artscroll Schottenstein Edition of the Mishna. Here are a few thoughts

  • I found the introductions to each tractate to be incredibly well done and useful. Just reviewing the introductions to all tractates would be in itself wonderful learning. I compared the introductions to Brachot and it is somewhat more detailed in the Yad Avraham edition
  • The commentary in the Yad Avraham edition is very very very (!) detailed. It was too much for me when learning the text but is obviously what you want if you are interested to go in depth in certain places
  • The translation between both is very different. Yad Avraham translates the English "in one go", like the Stone Chumash does, while Schottenstein has the literal translation a few words, then a few words of explanation to make it a running text, then again literal translation. Exactly as the elucidation of the Talmud Bavli you refer to. The latter (Schottenstein) is far more readable and avoids to constantly need to refer to the notes
  • The Yad Avraham has 44 volumes, the new Schottenstein has 21. In the introduction to Schottenstein, artscroll themselves address the difference between them. They write

The Yad Avraham is an encyclopedic, in-depth commentary that presents many explanations and explores nuances and complexities, raises questions and cites a wide variety of works on the Mishnah and Talmud. Its thoroughness has won the praise of even masters of the Talmud throughout the world so that those who study and benefit from the Schottenstein edition may turn to the Yad Avraham commentary when they wish to delve into the nuances of the Mishna more deeply and explore a wider range of comments. Thus, in effect, the two editions complement each other

For someone new to Mishna study or someone who wants to participate in a communal effort without necessarily having time to make a comprehensive study of all of the relevant commentaries and Talmud, I would recommend the Schottenstein edition. It also exists now in a digital formal for iPad and Android, the entire set costs 140$ as of this writing which seems a bargain, but you can also buy individual sedarim (21-28$) or tractates (7$). Brachot is free to download as a trial.

Moving beyond Artscroll, there is a free app (iOS, Google) with the Kehati commentary of the Mishna, in Hebrew and English. This commentary is very popular in Israel, it is focused on simplicity and clarity rather than completeness and sources. This commentary has also been printed by Feldheim.

It is easy to try both the Kehati and Artscroll online for free - and decide based on individual preferences.

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    It is a decent translation. However, sometimes, I find Art Scroll a bit overwhelming for a beginner. In many cases, you can ignore the commentary, but sometimes, you can't. I know Steinsaltz has concentrated on Gemarah. I don't recall if he published a strictly Mishnah series. – DanF Mar 25 at 17:19
  • @DanF interestingly, R Steinsaltz has published translation and commentaries on all of Tanakh, Gemara and Chassidut (Tanya). Mishna is missing ... but only for a few more months as Koren is preparing to publish his Mishna commentary, in Hebrew first then English – mbloch Mar 25 at 17:20
  • @mbloch I didn't realize that Koren is Steinsaltz. I am big fan of Steinsaltz translation. I generally have used the Hebrew one. He is clear and concise and gets to the point. – DanF Mar 25 at 17:29
  • I would also recommend the Yad Avraham Mishnah sets. – Dude Mar 27 at 2:45
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The classic modern Mishnah commentary was written in Hebrew by R. Pinchas Kehati, and is also available in English translation (e.g. here). As a bonus, there are free iOS and Android apps available which contain the entire Hebrew and English texts.

Major advantages of this edition include a running commentary on every phrase of the Mishnah, as well as introductions to each tractate, chapter and (where necessary) mishnah, explaining relevant concepts before one dives in to the text of the Mishnah itself.

The commentary is relatively concise, but (I find) provides the reader with a good understanding of at least one approach to each mishnah.

In some cases, where the classic commentators had different approaches in explaining a given mishnah, R. Kehati will present alternative opinions and explanations as an end-note to his commentary on that mishnah.


More recent entrants to English language Mishnah commentary were produced by Artscroll.

Their first effort was the Yad Avraham series which contains a translation as well as in-depth commentary (culled from many of the traditional commentators) on each mishnah.

This was followed by the Schottenstein edition, which contains a running translation/elucidation (in the style of Arscroll's successful Schottenstein edition of the Talmud) as well as footnotes. The commentary here tends to be somewhat briefer and less comprehensive than in the earlier Yad Avraham version, but still provides a thorough understanding of the mishnah.


One final thought: If your Hebrew skills are up to it and you have had some prior exposure to learning Mishnah, you may want to try simply learning each mishnah with the classic commentary of R. Ovadiah miBartenura.

I have personally learned through the whole Mishnah corpus with his commentary, and found that it is (generally) short enough to learn in a reasonable amount of time, but still provides a deeper understanding of the mishnah (often based on the relevant Talmudic discussions) as well as a summary of final halachic decisions.

Bartenura's commentary is published in the vast majority of editions of the Mishnah, and is also available online at Hebrewbooks.org and Sefaria.org. I note that Sefaria appears to have a "community" English translation of at least some of the Mishnah together with Bartenura's commentary, but I can't vouch for the accuracy of either.

  • I recommend against that translation of Kehati. I learn Mishnayos regularly with my father, and he uses that edition. Across the two and a half Sedarim we’ve covered, I’ve lost track of how many inaccuracies or other problems have shown up in the translation. – DonielF Mar 26 at 23:01
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When I first learned Mishnayos, the only translation available to me was that of Phillip Blackman. I happened to like it a lot. The goal of the translation was to make it accessible, and to provide enough understanding to equip the reader for further study.

It provides an introduction to each Tractate, and a straight-forward translation with notes explaining or justifying finer points of translation. In his introduction, he gives Rashi, Bartenura, Tosefos Yom-Tov, Tiferes Yisroel, and Hilcheta Gevirta as his sources for explanations.

The entire collection is available on Hebrewbooks.org, in the following six volumes:

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Three resources, none of which relate to English translation, to add to the existing good answers that do:

The first resource I would recommend based on personal experience is patience. When I started learning mishna on my own I had about 4 years of instruction in it under my belt but it still took some amount of time and encouragement from an older brother to get me through the first two masechtos I did independently. If you're not used to the cadence and transitions of this particular genre it is easy to miss the forest (ascertaining principles of halacha) for the trees (casuistic statements of halacha by decontextualized named individuals).

To get some context, I found it very helpful to refer to charts showing the approximate chronology and relationships between the people named. (I believe there is one in the back of סייעתא לגמרא by Aryeh Carmel.) This helps force you to take a slightly broader perspective on the discussion you're learning, and appreciate the structure (to a greater or lesser extent depending on the masechta).

Detail is also useful, and for that I have always appreciated the ever-growing literature of illustrations for mishna. In my day these were only available in pretty elementary form and on a small number of masechtos. These days it seems you can get all of sha"s in a range of styles from kiddie to sophisticated. Illustrations based on reputable research can express with 1000x the efficiency what the best verbal translation can.

  • Thanks for teaching me the word "casuistic." Your point about patience, forest, and trees is well-taken. Lately, learning mishnayot with my kids (this is me, a representation of my actual experiences, not the POV of the question) at the pace they need to pick up basic understanding, I find that I'm noticing, and pointing out to them, features of the forest, much more than I ever had before when learning by myself. I anticipate achieving a similar effect from attempting to write MY posts about mishnayot I learn B"H for the MY 10-year siyum. – Isaac Moses Mar 27 at 5:35
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Dr. Joshua Kulp, Rosh Yeshiva of the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, has produced a very clear English commentary to the Mishna. I have found it very useful since it provides an explanation of each Mishna in modern English, but is also not written for academics or Torah scholars, so it requires very little (if any) background. It is also not overly wordy, as it explains the Mishnayos section by section, as opposed to line by line (or word by word).

It can be found on the Conservative Yeshiva website as well as on Sefaria, in the "English Explanation of the Mishnah" section of the Modern Works page. (For example, their presentations of Berachot 1:1 are here and here, respectively.)

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