Weekly Freebies: Koren Shabbos v2

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The Koren Steinsaltz Talmud, Shabbos vol. 2 (82a-end), is available as a free PDF for a limited time. This is the Vilna text and the Steinsaltz Hebrew. Download here: link

See prior freebies here: link

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Editor 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 currently is serving his third term on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and also serves as the Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He serves on the Editorial Board of Jewish Action magazineand the Board of OU Press. He has published four 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.


  1. I perused the English translation recently and was unimpressed. Not sure why I would be impressed as I know many of the translators (men AND women!), and they are not scholars at all. Say what you will about Artscroll, but at least their translation was done by a group of scholars.

  2. This is a link to the HEBREW edition.

    See my review here of the English edition: https://www.torahmusings.com/2012/06/koren-steinsaltz-talmud/

  3. Dude, the thing is, I’m not sure they’re *trying* to do “scholarship,” or at least not the same type Artscroll is trying. That is, they’re more about explaining language, words, etc. and not explaining the sugya as such. Of course, Koren editors are free to correct me.

  4. I continue to reference both Artscroll and the Koren translations for Daf Yomi. As I summarized after completing B’rachot:


    – I found the Koren presentation of the translation chunked into paragraphs rather than phrases to be far more helpful than the Artscroll interpolated translation. That way, I was able to easily read the Hebrew/Aramaic as a stated thought, followed by the English translation and notes.

    – For those of us brought up with modern Israeli pronunciation, the Koren transliteration (when needed) is easier to parse.


    – While some of the graphics didn’t add much value, many did in unexpected ways. As an urban dweller, the botany graphics in B’rachot were particularly helpful to understanding the text in ways I hadn’t caught before and as more general education.

    Historical Context and Scholarship:

    – I really enjoyed the Language notes explaining the derivation of borrow words. The pointing out and explanation of key phrases used throughout the Talmud is also an educational aid.

    – The Artscroll is wedded to the Vilna text, sticking with what is well known to be the product of censorship; whereas the Koren takes a more academic approach. This is obvious in regard to, e.g. Akum vs. Goyim; but, plays out in more subtle forms elsewhere. For example: this Koren note on 48a in regard to סַלְסְלֶהָ וּתְרוֹמְמֶךָּ: “In variant readings of this Gemara, including in the manuscripts before the ge’onim, the verse quoted by Shimon ben Shataĥ was: “Extol her and she will exalt you, and your seat will be amongst princes,” which is more appropriate for the case at hand, since he was seated between the king and queen. This verse does not appear in Scripture, and its source is the book of Ben Sira. Although this work was not canonized by the Sages, neither was it rejected outright, and its salient verses are cited.” Artscroll is completely silent on this.

    – The Koren seems less reticent about showing the relationship between some text and the outside culture that influenced it. For example, the identification of Markulis as the Roman god Mercury on 57B, further noting that Mercury is the Roman version of the Greek god Hermes and explaining that “Among the various roles attributed to him was patron of the roads and journeys. Therefore, idols of him were often placed at the entrance to roadways, usually incomplete, symbolic images.” By contrast see circumspect Note 61 in the Artscroll.


    For those interested in halachot codified in the Yad or SA derived from the Bavli to track (including those we don’t necessarily follow today), the Halacha notes are a useful assist as they provide a summary as well as the Mareh Makom.

  5. IH – all of the positive features you mention are available in the original Hebrew translation which I enjoy immensely and which I believe to be a real work of scholarship and an important contribution. My problem is with the English translation. Bottom line, its not as clear and cogent as Artscroll. Unfortunately Rav Steinsaltz and Rav Zvi Hirsch Weinreb, whose names appear prominently on the new volumes have nothing to do with the project (as I wrote above I have intimate knowledge). It’s a shame because they could really contribute something new.

    One feature that is very valuable in the Hebrew edition are the indices in the back: An index by topic, by name of Tanna & Amora, Biblical passages, etc. In the new English translation they are gone! It’s a tragedy as that is one of the features that makes the Steinsaltz Talmud unique.

  6. Competition is a wonderful thing, Dude. And with both available in softcopy at reasonable prices, I am a consumer of both.

  7. BTW, Dude, can you post some examples of where, in your view, Koren English is not as clear and cogent as Artscroll?

  8. “both available in softcopy at reasonable prices, I am a consumer of both.”

    To which “both” are you referring?

  9. All my comments follow on Dude’s discussion of the English Artscroll and English Koren, and “both” refers to them (Artscroll’s iPad Daf Yomi subscription; and, Koren’s PDFs (B’rachot 1 & 2, Shabbat 1 & 2).

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