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I have a general interest in the Talmud and how it is studied in yeshivot. However, my Aramaic and Hebrew are basic and I cannot read Rashi script. I recently enjoyed a book called The Talmud: A Biography by Barry Scott Wimpfheimer, a Reform Rabbi, which I found particularly interesting because it takes the reader through a sugya, but then also considered Rashi, Rif and Tosefot on that sugya, thereby giving a taste of what it is like to study Gemara with traditional commentaries.

I should be grateful if anyone knows of and could recommend any other books in English (ideally from a more orthodox perspective), that take a reader through one or two sugyot in this way with the traditional commentaries, showing how they are interpreted and how they lead to a final decision on halakhah.

Many thanks.

  • perhaps the books of R. David Brofsky or R. Yosef Tzvi Rimon – wfb Feb 19 '20 at 22:47
  • FYI, Barry Scott Wimpfheimer is a Musmach of an orthodox Yeshiva. I do not know him personally but he seems orthodox – chessprogrammer May 12 '20 at 18:26
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There's a great work by Rav Zevin, I believe translated into English as "The festivals in Halacha" published by artscroll.

While it's not exactly on the Talmud, he picks questions about the chagim/festivals and show how they're developed by the rishonim and achronim. From what I remember most of the sugyas are based in the Talmud, or at least have Talmudic sources being brought in as proofs, and it will give you an enjoyable taste of what real Talmudic study is about.

  • Thanks. That's exactly the sort of thing for which I was looking. I will check it out. – Jm Lewin May 13 '20 at 19:09
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There is a fantastic two-volume series written by Rabbi Avigdor Frankenhuis and produced by the Targum Press called 'למדני חקיך: Clarifying Fundamental Topics in Shas' available here

The blurb reads as follows:

A new, groundbreaking work, The Lamdeini Chukecha series presents fundamental topics in Shas in an easy-to-understand fashion, along with clear explanations and systematic categorisation. Authored by long-time Mechanech Rabbi Avigdor Frankenhaus, these works are intended for use as an introduction to, and reference for, learning Gemora. Their simple layout and clear format appeals to both beginner and advanced Gemara students, as well as Maggidei Shiur, teachers and parents.

The first volume is more readily available if you are based in the States but the second volume is newer so perhaps harder to come by.

The topics explored in volume 1 are:

  1. The mitzvot and their application
  2. Punishments for doing aveirot - sins
  3. Jewish courts and testimony
  4. Disqualified witnesses
  5. Shevuot - Oaths
  6. Nedarim - Vows
  7. Marriage and divorce
  8. Forbidden Marriages
  9. Halachic Adulthood

The topics in the second volume are:

  1. Theft and lost property
  2. Damages
  3. The Laws pertaining to Murder
  4. Guardians
  5. Settling Financial Obligations
  6. Interest
  7. Methods of Acquisition
  8. Inheritance
  9. Servants
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There's a wonderful website called sefaria.org which has a translation of the entire talmud as well as many other texts, and depending on what it has translations of some commentaries as well. There's another website called mercava.org which is very similar although it breaks up the phrases of aramaic into smaller sizes (but it doesn't have nearly as many commentaries). In general, most translations (like artscroll, sefaria, etc.) implement Rashi's understanding, although i understand if that's not what you're looking for. There is also a website called dafyomi.co.il that breaks down each tosfos and explains what each phrase is accomplishing. Even if your reading skills aren't quite there yet, first of all, with time and practice they will get better, but also, if you take a look at the footnotes of an artscroll gemara (or in a Koren gemara, which isn't nearly as common) it may quote other gemaras which are worthwhile to look at in order to understand the sugya better by contrasting the principles in each gemara, and then you can use an artscroll over there. But if you're trying to experience what it's like to learn a sugya like someone in yeshiva would, then, if it's an option, maybe try reaching out to one near you who could learn with you. I know you specifically asked for books, so i apologize if i wasn't able to help.

  • 2
    Although these are great suggestions, they're suggestions for a different question, and not the one the OP asked. – magicker72 Mar 20 '20 at 20:07

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