Home / Legacy /

Midpoints

 

The Gemara (Kiddushin 30a) states the following: The vav of “gachon” (Lev. 11:42) is the middle of the letters of the Torah, “darosh darash” (Lev. 10:16) is the middle of the words of the Torah, and the “ayin” of “miya’ar” (Ps. 80:14) is the middle letter of Psalms. Elsewhere (link), I quoted R. Yitzchak Yosef Zilber’s explanation, as quoted in Torah Shelemah (vol. 28 addenda ch. 12), that this refers to unusual letters.

Be that as it may, my friend Mark Zomick brought the following to my attention:

The number of pages of Gemara in the Vilna (Romm) Talmud, excluding pages with only Mishnah and no Gemara, is 2690 (2711 in total, minus 21 with only Mishnah). Therefore, the midpoints are pages 1345-6.

According to Mark’s calculations, those pages fall out on Kiddushin 29-30. As pointed out above, Kiddushin 30 discusses the midpoint of the Torah. In other words, the midpoint of the Talmud is the location of the discussion of the midpoint of the Torah.

I don’t place much theological significance on this. The definition of the midpoint of the Talmud is somewhat vague. However, it is still a cool trivia fact.

 

Share this Post

 

Related Posts

About the author

Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of Torah Musings.

 
The opinions and facts here are presented solely by the author. Torah Musings assumes no responsibility for them. Please address religious questions to your rabbi.
 

17 Responses

  1. mycroft says:

    “According to Mark’s calculations, those pages fall out on Kiddushin 29-30. As pointed out above, Kiddushin 30 discusses the midpoint of the Torah. In other words, the midpoint of the Talmud is the location of the discussion of the midpoint of the Torah.

    I don’t place much theological significance on this”

    I place zero theological significance to this-pagination of Talmud is dependent on how Christian printers set the pagination-zero holiness to daf pagination.

  2. S. says:

    Gil, the pagination was not introduced by Romm. Thus, daf 14b of any tractate, for example, has been a constant since the 16th century.

    However, while Bomberg and many of the other printers were Christians, they owned, but did not edit or typeset their hebrew books. I actually think it is pretty unlikely that any Christian conceived the layout for any pages of the Talmud. There were barely any Christians who were Hebrew-Aramaic literate enough for that at the time, except apostate Jews.

  3. RJM says:

    Perhaps a coincidence, but still fascinating!

  4. Baruch says:

    If what we’re talking about is hashgacha, why would it matter whether the printers were Jewish or Christian? It wouldn’t.

  5. Moshe Shoshan says:

    “excluding pages with only Mishnah and no Gemara, is 2690″ this seems to be an entirely arbitrary parameter. Maybe we should exclude pages with out Tosfot or perhaps those with pictures.

    Gil, are you telling me that you have never used a non-vilna shas, that you were unaware of the fact that pagination is far older than Romm? they we still pretty common when we were growing up.

  6. GPickholz says:

    Worse still, the present Vilna pagination marks one of the worst internal civil wars between mitnagdim and chassidim, and dreadful behavior towards one another with fatal consequences

  7. Shlomo says:

    “excluding pages with only Mishnah and no Gemara, is 2690″ this seems to be an entirely arbitrary parameter. Maybe we should exclude pages with out Tosfot or perhaps those with pictures.’

    C’mon, if we’re that strict we’d have to get rid of most gematrias too…

  8. mycroft says:

    “C’mon, if we’re that strict we’d have to get rid of most gematrias too…”
    See Ibn Ezra in Bareshit 14:14 on chanichav on gematria. How do I remeber the cite gematria yad yad =choach. Of course the Prakim are Christian too.

  9. HaDarda"i says:

    GPickholz wrote:
    “Worse still, the present Vilna pagination marks one of the worst internal civil wars between mitnagdim and chassidim, and dreadful behavior towards one another with fatal consequences”

    Who died from this dispute?

  10. GIL:

    the “standard” foliation for our shas comes from the first bomberg edition (with the exception of berachos, which is based on the second bomberg edition)

    S:

    “Thus, daf 14b of any tractate, for example, has been a constant since the 16th century.”

    *almost* any tractate :)

    “I actually think it is pretty unlikely that any Christian conceived the layout for any pages of the Talmud.”

    do you mean the general layout template or the specific word-by-word layout? soncino already used this type of layout template, as did some medieval scribes (but not common). the bomberg press certainly relied heavily on the earlier soncino masechtos (at least the volumes printed) and could have taken the layout template from there (but i don’t think the specific layout and foliation, but should be double checked?) or even the earlier mss. i wonder though if there are parallels to this type of layout in christian printing/mss?

    “There were barely any Christians who were Hebrew-Aramaic literate enough for that at the time, except apostate Jews.”

    felix pratentis, ibn adoniyahu, adelkind (et fils?) were all meshumadim in the employ of bomberg, with the latter (and ibn adoniyahu also but i don’t recall?) playing a major role in the shas (and iirc some of the masechtos of later printings are dated based on whether he signed with his hebrew or christian name)

  11. dardai:

    “Who died from this dispute?”

    the shapiras were exiled to siberia. what happened to them there? (i don;t know)

  12. S. says:

    >felix pratentis, ibn adoniyahu, adelkind (et fils?) were all meshumadim in the employ of bomberg, with the latter (and ibn adoniyahu also but i don’t recall?) playing a major role in the shas (and iirc some of the masechtos of later printings are dated based on whether he signed with his hebrew or christian name)

    IIRC the question of whether Adelkind converted remains open, unlike the others, but I could be wrong.

  13. IH says:

    Useful background information can be read in Marvin J. Heller’s chapter, Earliest Printings of the Talmud, of the YU Museum’s Printing the Talmud. Together with the other chapters it can be downloaded from http://printingthetalmud.org/essays.html. He also has a 1995 article in Tradition: http://www.jewishideasdaily.com/docLib/20091208_HellerDesigningtheTalmud.pdf and one in Hakira Vol. 12.

    FWIW, I can confirm the Venezia Bomberg has this passage paginated on 30a.

  14. Reb Yid says:

    Wow!! Regardless of theological significance, that is very cool indeed.

  15. Elon says:

    Bomberg did the layout on the advice of a council of Rabbis in Venice. He also had several Meshmadim working for him, at least on the Torah. One of them is responsible for the mnemonics telling you how many verses are found in each portion. But you don’t really need to know anything about Judaism in order to layout text in a way that looks nice.

    It’s conceivable that this fell near the center, and someone wanted to make an in joke. Or more likely, it could just be random. Same with the number of pages in Baba Bathra.

  16. Elon says:

    ibn Adoniah worked for Bomberg before he was Christian, though.

 
 

Submit a Response

 

You must be logged in to submit a response.