Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

A Hidden Gem

Long-time readers of this blog know that when it comes to learning Talmud I prefer the Steinsaltz classic edition to the Artscroll.  There are a few reasons for this but my principle one is the different format.  With Artscroll, both in the Hebrew and English, the footnotes seem to form a constant disruption while reading the text.  You read a couple of words and bang!  You need to look at a footnote.  Then you return to the text, read a line or two and again, another footnote.  I find this way of reading quite disruptive.  It also doesn't help that half of the footnotes in the Artscroll are completely unnecessary and could have been interpolated into the text with a few words.  In the Steinsaltz edition, the notes at the bottom are more comprehensive and can be read after finishing the sugya in question which allows my learning to flow more easily.
However, one major limitation of the Steinsaltz edition is that it only has one volume of the Yerushalmi, Peah, with no plans for more.  If one wants to learn the Yerushalmi in addition to the Bavli, there is one popular effort, that of Artscroll's (surprise!)  Like the Bavli, the format involves the text above and copious footnotes below.  In addition, there are Hebrew and English versions in the works over the next few years.  Wishing to pick up some Yerushalmi over the next few years, I had resigned myself to relearning the Artscroll method and planned on picking up some volumes.
And then one night while surfing on the internet I came across the website of one Rav Yechiel Bar-Lev, shlita.  A quick look at Rav Bar-Lev's biographical information quickly reveals that (a) he is a very learned Talmid Chacham and (b) he clearly doesn't sleep, how else to explain the prodigious amount of work he has produced in the past few years.  He has produced two important works, one an edition of the Zohar with a readable Hebrew elucidation, and an entire set of the Yerushalmi.  One can view sample pages from both on line.  The Yerushalmi, in particular, grabbed my attention for his unique format.  Like the Artscroll he has the classic Talmud page and on the opposite side he has his interpretive Hebrew translation, copying Artscroll's fonts and style.  However, at the bottom of the page his footnotes read like the Steinsaltz Talmud's, more comprehensive and not requiring one to look up and down, up and down, like the Artscroll's.  A perfect synthesis.
Having ordered and received a set, I can say I have not been disappointed and look forward in the near future to starting a daf yomi with this edition to complement the Bavli one.  I encourage everyone to peruse Rav Bar-Lev's site and see the products for themselves.


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Chaim B. said...

I went through Y'lmi and found the Bar-Lev edition a wonderful resource, but not without drawbacks. He has no footnotes, which means you will not notice where he chooses one pshat over another (e.g. a Pnei Moshe over a Korban ha'Eidah) or where he emends the text. Difficult sugyos remain difficult and his peirush of the shakla v'terya at times left the obscure just as obscure. Still, all things being equal, it was definitely worth every penny and made the learning tremendously easier.

I never managed to find a seforim store that had it in stock (maybe demand will pick up if Artscroll makes the Ylmi more popular), but from what I have seen ot it the peirush of R' Chaim Kanievsky (it's not complete, but I think it runs through Moed now) is fantastic. You may want to see if you can get a hold of it.

Good luck with your efforts! -- the daf Ylmi is a shorter 4 year cycle, so you can almost make 2 siyumim for every one of the Bavli ; )

Garnel Ironheart said...

Chaim, which edition did you look through, because the latest one does have footnotes. Not as extensive as Artscroll but they're there.

Chaim B. said...

Maybe he revised it. The one I have has some longer explanations on the bottom, but these consist mostly of quotes from the Rambam of halachos that come out of the sugya, not notes on the peirush or the shakla v'tarya.

There is another pshat-oriented peirush on a few masechtos, but I don't own a copy and can't remember the name offhand (I know -- so what good is my mentioning it). I think it is put out by Gerrer chassidim.

Whatever you do, don't start with Kilayim. It makes Yevamos and Eiruvin look like aleph bais.

The Ylmi is toras eretz yisrael, and mistama the renewed interest in it goes hand in hand with our coming closer to geulah.