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The G'mara Bavli says in Shabas 63:

אמר רב כהנא, "כד הוינא בר תמני סרי שנין, והוה גמירנא ליה לכוליה תלמודא, ולא הוה ידענא דאין מקרא יוצא מידי פשוטו..."

Rav Kahana said, "When I was 18 years old, and I had learned the entire Talmud, and I didn't know that a verse never forsakes its simple meaning..."

All over the G'mara the term תלמודא refers to extrapolation from the Torah using a specific methodology and not necessarily a set body of text or teaching, which is what the colloquial term refers to today. However in the above passage it seems to clearly mean the latter - a set body of teaching, which Rav Kahana had exhausted. (Note that the -א suffix is a definite article.)

What exactly is he referring to if at the time of his speaking the Talmud had not yet been composed? Is this a בבלי\ירושלמי trick?

  • 4
    It is interesting that the text as it appears in the Vilna Shas is 'והוה גמירנא ליה לכוליה הש"ס', in which case he would be saying that he had learned all of "Shas" which is understandable, at least, as referring to studying all of Mishnah. However, the Soncino here has a footnote on the word "shas" (which they present in transliteration in the English side) which reads: "MS.M Talmud, Shas being a correction by the censor." MS.M refers to the uncensored Munich Codex of 1342. – Yosef Dec 27 '10 at 18:20
  • @Yosef Quite interesting indeed. – WAF Dec 28 '10 at 15:11
  • The next question would be, why would "talmuda" give the censor fits, and why is "shas" a better substitution? I had thought that the censors really only cared about references to non-Jews. – Yosef Dec 28 '10 at 19:08
  • See also Chagiga 3a and and Bava Metziah 11a. The article "תורה שבע"פ בתקופת כתבי היד ובתקופת הדפוס" by A.M. Haberman (he.wikipedia.org/wiki/…) notes that the word "talmud" was specifically targeted by the censors. See also seforim.blogspot.com/2010/01/woe-is-unto-whom.html for more background. – Yosef Dec 28 '10 at 19:51
  • Link to Haberman article: daat.ac.il/daat/kitveyet/mahanaim/tora-2.htm – Yosef Dec 28 '10 at 19:53
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There were a few hundred years between the transcription of Mishna and that of what we call the Gemora. While people had informal notes, it was still an oral system. So when the Talmud refers to Gemora it has in mind all the oral lectures and "notes" that were happening in Yeshivas as well as Toseftas, Breisas and even the Mishna and its unwritten comments.

  • But still, the way the word is used here implies the existence of a defined corpus; that is, that certain oral lectures were considered to be required knowledge for someone to be able to say that he knew the whole thing -- in a word, canonical. – Yosef Dec 27 '10 at 18:25
  • Did you go to college? If not, this is kind of hard to explain. But in colleges there were sylabus/class notes that were taken by student(s) in the past that became unofficial course text. I'm not talking about test questions and answers, just lecture notes and expansions on those. It wouldn't surprise me if back then there were "notes" and there were "Notes!" – inSeattle Dec 28 '10 at 2:17
  • @inSeattle You are still implying that there was a conventional body of work "Notes!" that any given text could be either "in" or "out of". If so, the work of Ravina and Rav Ashi was seemingly just to rubber stamp this preexisting thing. Is this really how it happened? – WAF Dec 28 '10 at 15:15
  • @WAF, according to at least one way of looking at it, yes. R' Y.I. Halevi (Doros Harishonim) argues that the first "standardized" text of the Bavli (what inSeattle called "Notes!") was put together by Abaye and Rava, then later updated by Ravina and Rav Ashi. (Though he says that all of it was still oral only, and was first written down by the Rabbanan Savorai a couple of generations after Rav Ashi.) – Alex May 11 '11 at 0:01
  • I'm sure the questioner knows the mishna existed. The word there says Talmud, not Mishna! – barlop Aug 22 '18 at 16:20
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Rav Triebitz actually discusses this at length(great length) in a series of 12 one hour shiurim that can be found on his website regarding the history of the Talmud. Essentially he posits that the Talmud was not actually codified until just before the end of the Gaonic era, and thus was it says Talmud inside the Talmud, it is talking about the Talmud, that it was a slip, by the Gaonim who were compiling the Talmud(much like when Gaonim are mentioned in the Amoraic discussions).

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He means all of the traditions, extrapolations, and derivations that were taught up till then. The same thing is meant by "Talmudo b'yado"; his tradition is in his hand.

At one time, it was forbidden to commit halacha to writing; rather, everyone learned and remembered it by heart. When Rabi Yehuda HaNasi saw the situation getting worse and people began to forget their learning, he saw that it had to be written down in order to save the world. R' Nechemia's Talmud refers to the general tradition(Talmud), and not our Talmud Bavli; which is a compilation of all the traditions that were available at that time, generally.

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Mahartz Chayus (Chagigah 3a) comments on the usage of 'talmuda' (some versions have printed 'shas', but modern printings will have talmuda). The Talmud relates how some mute folks, through prayer, gained the ability to speak. When they finally spoke they were fluent in all of the 'talmuda'.

למימרא דכי לא משתעי לא גמר והא הנהו תרי אילמי דהוו בשבבותיה דרבי בני ברתיה דרבי יוחנן בן גודגדא ואמרי לה בני אחתיה דרבי יוחנן דכל אימת דהוה עייל רבי לבי מדרשא הוו עיילי ויתבי קמייהו ומניידי ברישייהו ומרחשין שפוותייהו

The Gemara asks: Is that to say that one who is not able to speak is not able to learn? But consider the following incident. There were two mute people who were in the neighborhood of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi. They were the sons of the daughter of Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Gudgeda, and some say that they were the sons of the sister of Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Gudgeda. Whenever Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi would enter the study hall they would also enter and sit before the Sages, and they would nod their heads as if they understood and move their lips.

ובעי רבי רחמי עלייהו ואיתסו ואשתכח דהוו גמירי הלכתא וספרא וספרי וכולה הש"ס

And Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi prayed for God to have mercy upon them, and they were healed. And it was discovered that they had learned and were proficient in halakha, i.e., Mishna; Sifra, the halakhic midrash on Leviticus; Sifrei, the halakhic midrash on Numbers and Deuteronomy; and the entire Talmud. This shows that those who cannot speak are able to learn.

He comments that in the name of a letter from Rav Sherira Gaon in yuchsin that this is a proof that the Talmud was ordered in the day of Rebbi. He also points out the usage on page 10a, which refers to switching between Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds. As well as Moed Katan 3b, where the reference is also literal, to the Talmud.

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