Designing the Daf: The Creation of the Talmud Page as We Know It

For the Public
Thursday, March 3, 2022
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EST

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In the late fifteenth century, the process began of transforming the physical format of the Talmud from manuscript folios into the standard printed page that we know today. This talk will discuss the evolution of the iconic layout of the daf and the supplementary material that was chosen to be included there, fundamentally changing the way the Talmud and commentaries came to be used and perceived.

About the “Canon in Context” Series

Stepping back and squinting at the major works of the Jewish legal canon dotted across history, many of them appear…puzzling. Centuries of tradition treat the Mishnah, Talmud, and other texts as settled law and as contributions to rabbinic thought. But in their own times, they were outliers. Each one diverged remarkably in form and content from the Jewish writings of their time and place. So how did they get that way, and how did they become canon?

This series explores the historical context of halakhic compilations and codes: who composed them, what were they trying to achieve, and why did they choose the format and the topics they chose? Set aside what you think you know, and encounter these texts in the worlds of their creation.  


About the image above: "The Book of Ruth and the Book of Ecclesiastes with Joseph Kara's commentary," ca. 1322, held in the British Library.


Edward Fram

Edward Fram

Ben Gurion University of the Negev

Edward Fram is associate professor of Jewish History and incumbent of the Solly Yellin Chair in Eastern European and Lithuanian Jewry at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Beer Sheva, Israel. His research focuses on the history of Jewish law in the early modern period.


We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Klatt Family and the Harry Stern Family Foundation.