Two Excellent Reference Books on Talmud

Judovits titles

by Dov Peretz Elkins

Sages of the Talmud is a collection of biographical information about the authors of the Talmud. Itcontains about four hundred entries and hundreds of anecdotes about the sages, all as recorded in the Talmud itself. An indispensable book for the student of the Talmud, it is not only an excellent practical reference guide, but also a text of general interest that may be read for enjoyment. This reference work cites the source of each quotation in the Talmud. The fascinating anecdotes and stories give readers an idea of the kind of social environment in which the sage lived. The work also includes an appendix with the corresponding general history of the time so that the reader can understand the contemporary political climate.

In the Talmud, several sages share the same name. This can be confusing to students, who wonder which rabbi made a particular statement. The author removes this confusion by linking each story and citation to the correct talmudic sage. Although the names of the sages sometimes appear close to one another in the Talmud, they did not necessarily live in the same time period – some lived hundreds of years apart. The book clarifies important questions, including the period of time in which the sages lived, who their teachers or significant colleagues were, and the house of study or city associated with them.

Find It in the Talmud is a reference book and all-encompassing encyclopedia on the Babylonian Talmud. With over 6,000 entries, Find It in the Talmud is a pathfinder for students and a useful tool for scholars searching for subjects discussed in the Talmud.

While some of the entries are brief, consisting only of the title of the topic and its description, many others relate full stories. The book also contains anecdotes and sayings recorded in the Talmud. Every entry in the book directs the reader to at least one citation in the Talmud where the subject is discussed. The emphasis throughout is on ethics, morality, charity, decency, and proper conduct.

These are two extraordinary volumes filled with significant information, of interest to anyone who is interested in Talmud, Jewish values, and Jewish literature.  Excellent resources for every Jewish library.

Mordechai Judovits is a long-time student of the Talmud, a retired businessman and a Holocaust survivor. He grew up in the town of Dej, in Transylvania, Romania, and studied for several years in the Yeshivas of Dej. He is the grandson of Rabbi Moshe Paneth, the rabbi of Dej, and a greatgrandson of Yechezkel Paneth, the author of Sefer Mareh Yechezkel and former Chief Rabbi of Transylvania. His mother, Nechama Reizel, a Holocaust martyr, was the daughter of the Dejer Rebbe, Moshe Paneth. His father, Shlomo ben Mordechai Judovits, also a Holocaust martyr, was a landowner and businessman.

In March 1944, German troops marched into Hungary, at which time the Jews from Hungary and Transylvania were deported to Auschwitz and other concentration camps. Mordechai, his parents, his brothers and sister were carried away to Auschwitz. The last time Mordechai saw his parents was when he was separated from the rest of his family in Auschwitz. Liberated in 1945, he returned to Dej to be reunited with his family, soon realizing that he was the only survivor of his family. In 1947, he immigrated to the U.S., where he married his wife Helen and raised a family. Since 1978, upon retiring from business, he has been very active in Jewish organizations, in particular the Boca Raton Synagogue.

This review originally appeared in Jewish Media Review 

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