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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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< Q3.13 TOC Q3.15 >

Question 3.14:
What is the Gemara and what is the Talmud?


The term 'gemara' means addition; The gemara is an addition to the Mishna. Interestingly, although there is only one Mishna, there are two gemaras, each developed by many rabbis over a few centuries. One gemara was developed in Israel, and is called the Yerushalmi; the other was developed in Babylonia, and is called the Bavli. You never find the gemara printed by itself. It is always printed along with the Mishna.

When you have the Babylonian gemara and the Mishna printed together, it is called Talmud Bavli (The Babylonian Talmud).

When you have the Israeli gemara and the Mishna printed together, it is called Talmud Yerushalmi (or the Jerusalem Talmud, or the Palestinian Talmud, or the Talmud of the Land of Israel.)

Keep in mind that the gemaras do not stick closely to the text, but offer a huge amount of additional material which is only loosely connected to the Mishna. They supplement the Mishna with haggadic materials and biblical expositions, and are a source for history and legend.

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at

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© (c) 1993-2002 Daniel P. Faigin <>