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Talmud

TALMUD (tăl'mŭd). A collection of Jewish writings of the early Christian centuries. There is a Palestinian Talmud and a later, more authoritative, much longer Babylonian Talmud. Each consists of Mishnah and Gemara. Mishnah grew out of oral tradition, whose origin is obscure. The Mosaic Law did not cover all the needs of a developing society, and the defect was supplied by oral rabbinical decisions. When the Jewish leaders felt the need to preserve them, they wrote them down; later they felt a need for a commentary on them. This function the Gemara fulfills. The scope of the Talmud may be seen in the titles of the six parts of the Mishnah: Seeds, Relating to Agriculture; Feasts; Women and Marriage; Civil and Criminal Law; Sacrifices; Clean and Unclean Things and Their Purification.