Weekly Freebies: Soncino Talmud

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The complete Soncino English translation of the Talmud: Halakhah.com

The Soncino Press Babylonian Talmud is comprised of 30 masterfully organized volumes. This set has been a valuable resource for the study of Talmud for more than 50 years. It offers an easy-to-use format–with the original Vilna Talmud page opposite its English translation–and many explanatory notes.

(I assume that this website is not a violation of Soncino’s copyright. I am not aware of their voicing any objection to it.)

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

18 comments

  1. This was taken, html and all, from was a rather strange antisemitic website which I’ve been aware of for quite a few years (a great reference site for scholars and Jew haters alike). If you want to read their justification for publishing it you can see it here: http://www.come-and-hear.com/copyright.html.

  2. Your copy is a little misleading – the website does not include the Hebrew, as did some of the printed Soncinos.(I know you didn’t say they did – I’m just saying it could have been worded differently.) (The original Soncino translation was in an all English format.)
    Re: MJ’s comment – it didn’t all come from the antisemitic site, which only has about half the masechtot; for the rest, halakha.com offers pdf files with no html page-by-page index links. But it is still a great service not to ever have to refer to C-A-H again.

  3. I think the PDF files are derived from Soncino’s electronic-form Talmud translation. At least, when I’ve printed sections from the CD-ROM, it looks like those PDFs.

  4. I don’t believe the website could be in violation of Soncino’s copyright as their translation was originally released without any copyright claims in a period where it was mandatory to claim copyright or you lost it. As a result, their translation was left to public domain and remains that way in some countries, but not others which have since revised the law.

  5. “I don’t believe the website could be in violation of Soncino’s copyright as their translation was originally released without any copyright claims in a period where it was mandatory to claim copyright or you lost it. As a result, their translation was left to public domain and remains that way in some countries, but not others which have since revised the law”

    I jist checked a few volumes of the Soncino translation that I was given by my wife decades ago-I did not see any copyright claims-the proper question how does Halacha treat copying someone elses work and making a profit on it.
    I recall many were oppossed to the company that copied the Soncino on one page and the shas on the facing page.

  6. I know we discussed the copyright on the Soncino Talmud (and whether Soncino could assert a copyright claim against the anti-Semitic site that was hosting it) years ago on soc.culture.jewish.moderated. I concur with SF2K1. The conclusion was that it’s legal under some technicality in copyright law (i.e. Soncino could not assert copyright against the site), but I can’t find the post right now, so I don’t remember exactly what the technicality was.

  7. This does not necessarily apply to the digital version, which do doubt it copy written. If some one want to re-scan the soncino shas into digital form, thats another question.

  8. I suggest you place the weekly freebie on a line in your archives.

  9. Sammy Finkelman

    This isn’t really s good. As other people said it is misisng the Hebrew, which is not that serious a problem if you have the Hebrew, but the footnotes I think have been renumbered, and all connection to the original pages are lost and therefore the index (which is an indx to the English) is missing and useless.

    The Rebecca Bennett Gemorahs had indexes in every volume, and some years ago I bought n index to the Soncino which correlated the indexes to the dafs. IN each printed Soncino you have a b c d and so on to preserve the boundaries of the original English pages.

    I really can’t make out the PDFs very well here but if this is taken from the CD-ROMS it is not very good even if you don’t have the problem with the bad Hebrew that came with those files. This seems to be somewhere in between.

    This is from my Amazon.com review

    1) The italics in the English that highlight any Hebrew words or Biblical verses quoted in the translation are gone.

    2) The footnotes have been renumbered, and there is no a b c or d reflecting the original 1930’s Soncino English edition pages.

    3) The footnotes usually cannot be seen at the same time as the text they refer to, but are on following pages, and the order is not so obvious. Often the left side of the screen has the remaining footnotes to the previous folio.

    4) The footnote numbers also are not in smaller type.

    The Hebrew is in separate files, which I might have expected, BUT the Hebrew is not a copy of the Vilna Shas at all, which I did not expect at all. In fact, it is just plain misleading to say this is Hebrew-Aramaic and Soncino.

    5) There is just the plain Gemorah text without Rashi or Tosfos or anything else.

    6) Very important for someone who needs English, the little circles and asterisks that key to small notes on the side telling you respectively, where a Biblical verse that is quoted comes from (or at least what Chapter) and where else in the Talmud the same words are repeated or nearly repeated are of course also missing.

    In usual Soncino Talmud editions these symbols, especially the quick indications as to where the Biblical verses quoted are on the Hebrew page, are of great help in matching the English to the corresponding spot it is translating. (The translations of Biblical verses are in italics in the regular Soncino English, so anywhere a verse is quoted, you can more or less easily find the matching text.)

    7) One folder or directory is a near duplicate of another, containing just one extra English tractate. The only differences are one extra tractate file, and the exact file names and the filedates.

    8) The CD-ROM contains just 71 1/2 megabytes, far from the capacity of a CD-ROM disk. You might have expected it to be full. And you might have expected the Hebrew to be reasonably big files containing the full Shas or as much as could fit on a CD-ROM.

    As was to be expected, it has no index and you can’t even use the printed edition index anywhere near as easily as you could in the printed edition, and it’s not so easy even there, as you need to use an index volume and then use the tables that give the daf numbers that correspond to the original 1930’s Soncino translation English page numbers. In another words an index to the index. But it is not here anyway.

    If you want to use this, it probably would be very helpful to print out the pages you are interested in but it still wouldn’t be as good as a printed edition.

  10. Sammy Finkelman

    The introductions at HALAKHAH.COM by the way are HTML files.

  11. MJ: Your mention of Come & Hear is fascinating. I saw this site years ago and forgot all about it. But I was impressed at the amount of effort that has been put in this website: can it really be the work of one person? Who is doing all this? And it seems somewhat unique.. I’ve seen various anti-semitic sites and all sorts of hate literature and this one is not run-of-the-mill. The key feature is that the distortions are low key, sometimes subtle, but always indicate a great deal of thought went into it. That leads me to suspect the person writing it is familiar with the traditional understandings and uses that as a way to spin things in a very negative way for the naive. Now, I am not going to write a thesis on this: that is just my rapid assessment.

  12. Ah, I see, Come & Hear is for recycling the writings of Elizabeth Dilling, a new interest of Glenn Beck (No need to hop in him… he is probably just a goof attracted to the anti-communism. But keep your eyes OPEN)

  13. Well, your free offer was enough to run the site into the ground — it’s out of bandwidth.

  14. “I think the [halakha.com] PDF files are derived from Soncino’s electronic-form Talmud translation.”

    They have too many errors of transcription for that.

  15. Reuven Brauner

    I am in the process of reformatting the entire text.

    If anyone is interested, contact me at [email protected].

    RB

  16. Jason Rubenstein

    I’ve regularly used come-and-hear to pull English Talmud off the internet – partly ambivalently and partly enjoying the irony.

    And today when I searched it, it was down. Does anyone know where it’s gone? If it’s gone?

    jbr

  17. This site is working currently on Digital Torah, the Talmud Vilna Daf together with the digital versions of Hebrew and English, very easy to navigate…

  18. Digital Torah = dTorah.com has digital Torah texts available, the Talmud Vilna Daf together with the digital versions of Hebrew and English, very easy to navigate…

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