The Mishnah (Hebrew מִשְׁנָה, " repetition" ) is the first major transcript of the oral Torah, and as such one of the most important collections of religious legal traditions of rabbinic Judaism, based on the Kodifizierungsleistung the Tannaim. The Mishnah forms the basis of the Talmud.

  • 9.1 Text and Translation
  • 9.2 concordance
  • 9.3 discharges
  • 9.4 language


According to the Orthodox Jewish view God, the Torah ( תורה ) revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai in two forms: first, as " written Torah " תּוֹרָה שֶׁבִּכְתָב ( Torah schäh - bichtaw ), ie in the form of the five books of Moses, the beginning of the also form the Christian Bible; the other as " oral Torah " תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל - פֶּה ( Torah schäh - be'al - pe ), which deals with the interpretation of the written Torah. The oral Torah was handed down orally to the next in the aftermath of a Jewish generation of scholars.

At the time of the occupation of Judea by Roman troops, especially after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 AD, the rabbis recognized the risk of dispersion of the Jews in the Diaspora. Accordingly, it was considered necessary, also this tradition in writing should be codified. Involved several generations (assignment sometimes fluctuating) were of rabbis (ie here: Tannaim ), such as

Outstanding importance is attached to the respected Torah scholar Judah ha - Nasi, who was usually called just " Rabbi " because of its unique authority.

Since during the editing process sometimes new insights into the Torah tradition emerged, a revision already in circulation Mishnah spending but did not seem opportune, circulated at times two versions of the work, a " Mishnah Rischona " ( older version) and " Mishnah Acharona " ( younger version). A mandatory output finally lay before the year 220.

At the same time or shortly after the Mishnah was the Tosefta, a complementary collection of lore and traditions of Judaism.


→ Main article: List of Mischnatraktate

The Mishnah is divided into six "orders" ( Sedarim, סדרים ) divided, in turn, at seven to twelve tracts ( Massechtot, מסכתות ). The total of 63 tracts in turn consist of sections ( Perakim ) and ultimately from individual Mischnajot. At the beginning of the Mishnah is outside the formal orders of the order Sera'im associated tractate Berakhot with blessings, prayers and the order of worship.

The title of the orders are:

  • Sera'im ( זרעים, " sowing" ): eleven treatises on agricultural duties to priests, socially needy strangers.
  • Mo'ed ( מועד, "Hard Times" ): twelve treatises on hard and fast days.
  • Nashim ( נשים, "Women" ): seven treatises on family law.
  • Nesikin ( נזיקין, " Damages" ): ten treatises on criminal and civil law, especially tort law, in addition to the ethical treatise Avot.
  • Kodaschim ( קדשים, " Holy things " ): eleven treatises on sacrifices, dietary laws, inter alia,
  • Ṭohorot ( טהרות, " purity " ): twelve treatises on purity / impurity of people, things and places.


The Mishnah contains mainly provisions for Jewish religious law, halakha ( הלכה ). There are only a few narrative or edifying considerations ( Aggada, אגדה ) usually at the end of a treatise.

Nevertheless, the Mishnah is not a law code in the modern sense. Rather, it is a synthesis of the prevailing opinions among the scholars in the academy and the Court in its entire width and inconsistency. Thus one of the six orders completely dedicated to temple service, although the Jerusalem temple was already at the time of origination of the Mishnah more than a century in ruins. Numerous discussions end apparently open, the rabbinic literature knows certain rules of interpretation, according to which authority to decide in case of doubt.

What is remarkable about the Mishnah is also the lack of justification for the fact merged laws from the scriptures of Judaism. According to Jewish tradition, the oral law was passed down simultaneously with the written law, it is therefore not directly derived from it. Establishing a link between the laws of the Mishnah and the Torah was in the following centuries an important field of activity of the Talmud and Midrash.

The rabbinic sages in this text are called Tannaim, derived from the Aramaic root word tn ' ( תנה ), in turn a variant of the Hebrew root sn ' ( שנה ). The root carries the meaning " repeat (which was a taught ) " and " learning " within the meaning of used.

Lecture and discussion

The Mishnah is studied traditionally by noisy speech. Numerous medieval Mishnah editions were vocalized for this purpose and partly with the Tiberian cantillation. In many cases, have been preserved local melodies and different pronunciation standards for the Mischnavortrag in Jewish communities around the world.

Most vocalized editions of the Mishnah are based today on the Ashkenazi standard vocalization and often contain errors. The so-called Albeck edition of Hanoch Albeck was vocalized by Hanoch Yalon, who made a careful synthesis of the medieval manuscripts and local pronunciation traditions of modernity. The Albeck edition also contains an entire book about Yalons methodology.

The Hebrew University in Jerusalem maintains extensive archives with recordings of Jewish Mishna songs based on various melodies and debate ways.

Textual tradition

A complete text-critical edition of the Mishnah is not available till date. All statements to text form and development therefore provisional. Under this assumption, it can be observed that the textual form is divided into two main reviews: A eretz - jisra'elische and a Babylonian version. The (initial ) pressure Naples in 1492 is compiled from various manuscripts. All prints later refer to him, but have been mutilated by the Christian censorship continues. Thus the manuscripts received has special significance:

  • The most important manuscript applies the so-called Codex Kaufmann. It probably dates back to Eretz - Jisra'el or Italy and was in 10-11. Century written. From second hand part is a grudge punctuation.
  • Codex Parma once formed with handwriting Vatican 31, a Sifra - Codex, a unit. The drafting of the year can be determined due to a colophon to 1073. As a country of origin Eretz - Jisra'el or southern Italy can be accepted.
  • Codex Cambridge probably dates from the 14th/15th. Century from the Sephardic area.

The three manuscripts mentioned belong to the eretz - jisra'elischen review.

  • Handwriting Munich is the only complete Talmud manuscript. It contains a Mischnatext who is close to the Babylonian version.
  • Furthermore, there are some Mischnafragmente from the Cairo Genizah.

Effect story


The Mishnah formed the basis for further discussion among rabbinical scholars, however, in Eretz - Jisra'el and the Babylonian Diaspora took a different development. Accordingly, at the end, there are also two different Gemarot ( Aramaic: גמרא teaching, scholarship ), comment collections, each together with the Mishnah itself - possibly supplemented by additional comments such as by Rashi - now make up the Palestinian and the Babylonian Talmud.

Subsequent comments

About the commitments made in the Talmud Mishnah comments the Mishnah was otherwise extensive comments:

  • Maimonides. One of the first Mischnakommentare dates from 1168 and was written by Maimonides. Since this primarily aimed at a Jewish audience in the dominion of Islam, he wrote his remarks in Arabic, but this used the Hebrew alphabet. He became known not least because of his oft-quoted " introductory chapter", one of which is the most famous on the tractate " Sanhedrin ": It contains the thirteen central beliefs of Judaism.
  • Samson of Sens ( 1150-1230 ).
  • Obadiah ben Abraham of Bertinoro (around 1450-1510 ). His comment follows on Maimonides, but also takes material from the Talmud.
  • Solomon Luria ( Maharshal, 1510-1573 ).
  • Yomtov Lipmann Heller ( Prague, 1579-1654 ).
  • Gaon of Vilna, 1720-1794: Shenoth Eliyahu.
  • Akiva Eiger.
  • Israel Lipschutz (1782-1860); The comment consists of the two parts of Jachin and Boaz, which are named after columns in the Jerusalem temple. Because of occasional references to modern scientific findings of the comment is considered to be controversial.
  • Pinhas Kehati. The value written in Hebrew comment place at the end of the 20th century spread. He works with extensive introduction chapters and turns especially to less experienced Mishnah exegetes.

Historical Mishnah Research

Mishnah and Talmud rarely contain historically reliable information about the persons mentioned in them. At the very least can be on their basis biographical breaks the Mishnaic scholars reconstruct itself.

Modern historians focus their attention mostly on the history and time of the Mishna. Special importance is given to the extent to which the editors have resorted to contemporary, to older or younger sources. Also of interest is the extent to which can be made in the Mishnah discussions boundaries of theological and regional nature and extent to which the various sections are attributed to different schools of ancient Judaism. For the above issues, different approaches have been developed:

  • Some of the statements in the Mishnah were considered to be historically accurate and absolutely reliable. They were written under the influence of divine inspiration. Any textual criticism forbid, therefore, and be heretical per se. This is considered by Orthodox Judaism in particular.
  • Other scholars point out that the historical statements of the Mishnah usually find no equivalent in non- Jewish sources. About the origin and authorship of the Mishnah rules therefore could not make a definitive statement. Against this background, the above questions could not be answered. Proponents of this view are about Louis Jacobs, Baruch M. Bokser, Shaye JD Cohen and Steven D. Fraade.
  • Mediating views that nevertheless would like to grant some historical significance of the Mishnah, are represented among others by Goodblatt, Lee Levine, David C. Kraemer, Robert Goldberg, Saul Lieberman, David Weiss Halivni, Avraham Goldberg and Dov Zlotnick.

Other meaning of the term Mishnah

The word Mishnah can also designate a section of text, ie the smallest structured unit in the Mishnah as a whole. The plural form is Mischnajjot in this case. So some Mischnajjot form a Pereq ( chapter ), some Peraqim ( pl. of Pereq ) form a Masechet ( treatise ), some Masechtot ( pl. of Masechet ) form a Seder (order), and finally form the template " s (short for Schischa Sedarim - the six orders ) the Mishnah (or the Talmud, when it comes to the Gemara ).