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HaMafteach: New English & Hebrew Editions

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HaMafteach: New English Edition

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HaMafteach: New English Edition
By Daniel Retter
Koren Publishers, 2012, 828 pages
ISBN: 978-965-301-3261

Reviewed by Israel Drazin - January 28, 2013

The word "Hamafteach" means "The Key." This inexpensive, beautifully bound book with large easy to read print opens the world of Talmudic lore to all people, Jews and non-Jews, who seek to know all of the Talmudic sources on particular subjects. This volume is the English version of the complete index to all of the laws, sayings, topics, anecdotes, maxims, parables, personalities, in fact everything that is in the Babylonian Talmud, both the Mishnah and the Gemara. It contains over 7,700 main entries, 29,000 sub-entries, and 45,000 sources. The book is introduced with a Preface by Rabbi Berel Wine, a Forward by the editors of the Talmudic Encyclopedia, an Introduction by Daniel Retter, and Guidelines that explains how to use this easy-to-use index.

People can use this index in many ways. For example, I was writing an article that included information about demons, and was able, because of this book, to say how many times the Talmud discussed demons.

The following are some examples of the more lofty entries: The index focuses on more than three dozen subjects concerning God and divides the entries into attributes, behavior, Israel, service, verses, and miscellaneous. Each sub-entry has a few words next to it describing what is discussed, and identifies the Talmudic page. Humility has two dozen sub-entries, thirteen identify the places where episodes are related and eleven show the sources for other discussions such as atonement, reward, and value. There are over fifty entries focusing on The Time of the Coming of the Messiah, which are divided into eight sub-categories: time, commands, legal documents, monetary matters, prayers, prohibitions, women, and miscellaneous.

The following are examples of more mundane subject: There are three dozen entries for demons. The book splits them up to cautions against demons, episodes, laws, and miscellaneous discussions. Shoes is presented in four parts: impurity, prohibitions, Shabbat, and a miscellaneous collection.


HaMafteach: New English Edition

buy at Amazon.com

HaMafteach: New Hebrew Edition
By Daniel Retter
Koren Publishers, 2012, 503 pages
ISBN: 978-965-301-3254

Reviewed by Israel Drazin - January 28, 2013

This is the Hebrew version of the comprehensive index to the entire Talmud. See my review, above, of the English version for a detailed description of this beautifully bound, inexpensive source book for Jews and non-Jews who want to see all the entries that the Babylonian Talmud has on various subjects from more lofty entries such as God, humility, and the Messiah to more mundane items such as demons and shoes. As with the English version, each entry divides and categorizes the different Talmudic information about the main entry. For example, under the main entry Targum, the nine sub-entries are Onkelos, Yonatan, Talmai, permitted translations, reading translations, what may be translated, testimony, Torah reading, and incomprehensible translations. I used this index and found that it was very helpful and informative.


Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of eighteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.gefenpublishing.com. His latest book on the Aramaic translation is Understanding Onkelos, published in 2012 by Targum Press. His website is www.booksnthoughts.com.


The views expressed in this review/article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Jewish Eye.
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