Recording of the 2000 Aryeh Dorfler Memorial Lecture at Leo Baeck College, in which Louis Jacobs provides insights into the composition of the Babylonian Talmud.
After briefly explaining the historical background, with the Mishnah and the Palestinian Talmud, Jacobs presents the stama’im, the anonymous compilers and editors of the Babylonian Talmud, whom he refers to as its real ‘creators’. The stama’im purportedly lived between the amora’im and the sabora’im, and creatively interpreted ancient material by using it to construct a new framework.
The occurrence of the stama’im, first suggested by David Weiss-Halivni, raises further questions, most poignantly, why did they remain anonymous? Jacobs answers the question by suggesting that such a creative work only comes to life when its author remains anonymous. Although the tana’im and amora’im were probably historical figures, they became characters – who interact and debate against each other – in a new setting entirely created by the stama’im. Just like a Shakesperian play, the author has to remain in the shadow for the narrative to come to life.
The quality of the recording deteriorates throughout the lecture, and the last minutes are practically inaudible. We apologize for the disappointment.