It used to be the standard for many many years that each in-text quotation of a Biblical verse in the Vilna edition Talmud Bavli had a little circle before the first word, which corresponded to a citation called Torah Or directly to the right or left that provided the source chapter. In newer, retypeset, laser-printed editions of the same, this system has been replaced by a numeric footnoting system that refers one to the lower margin of the page where the full pointed text and chapter:verse citation are given, called Torah Or Hashalem.

As great as it is to have all this information at one's fingertips instead of having to search a whole chapter for the relevant words, I really miss the instant recognizability and ease of use of the old system, especially the little circles. Do any of the fancy new printings use the circles?

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    Since the "new age" of g'mara typesetting, I have learned from three separate brands of "new print" g'maras (Oz V'hadar, Vilna Chadash, and Wagshal Naharda'ah), and none of them offer the old circle style of Torah Or. Though, if you're interested in "instant recognizability" of p'sukim (and maybe mishnayos/b'raysos and other sources within the g'mara), perhaps you'd be inclined to follow one of the various g'mara marking or color underlining systems out there.
    – jake
    Commented Jun 5, 2011 at 21:21
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    I personally feel that being able to easily look to the side to the see notes in the Mesoret HaShas (when you see the star, another feature of old-style gemaras) is much more useful than the old-style Torah Or. The old-style Torah Or only tells you the chapter, so if you want to look up the full text of a paseuk in context, you need to search the whole chapter in Tanach to find it. The new-style Torah Or tells you which number the paseuk is, and it also points out paseukim that the old Torah Or misses.
    – Chanoch
    Commented Jun 5, 2011 at 22:00
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    I'm not trying to argue against your desire for an old-style gemara, I just think there are other reasons why the old-style gemara is nice. (Now if I could get an old-style gemara with new-style rishonim in the back... that would be the best.)
    – Chanoch
    Commented Jun 5, 2011 at 22:03
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    @Chanoch I agree with you about M'soras Hasha"s as well, and @jake I hear your point about sophisticated systems of notation, but my main qualm comes up when looking for a page or piece of g'mara, which is immediately identifiable by the p'sukim in it. The distinctive notation just makes it that much easier to locate.
    – WAF
    Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 2:12
  • The Tuvia's (vowelized) gemaras still are the old way (although they are in much better print). They are available for free on some masechtos at e-daf.com
    – b a
    Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 7:27

1 Answer 1


Talman modern edition of the gemarah is still printing little circles. In the end there is a place where the whole psukim are cited. Also an asterisk is in use as before.

Here is a picture, found on the internet, of one of the pages in this edition of the Talmud..

In other editions they added a lot of stuff to the page, so the place beside the verse is taken by something else, therefore they were obligated to add this indirection.

I prefer the old style, that's why I always buy gmarot of Talman.

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