Developments in the Syntax and Logic of the Talmudic Hermeneutic Kelal Uferaṭ Ukelal

  • Michael Chernick
  • Studia Humana, January 2017, De Gruyter
  • DOI: 10.1515/sh-2017-0009

Developments in the Syntax and Logic of the Talmudic Hermeneutic Kelal Uferaṭ Ukela

What is it about?

The article traces the changes that took place in the form and logic of a talmudic hermeneutic that used a biblical verse beginning with a general clause, followed by a list of particulars, followed by another general clause. This hermenutic was used to produce rabbinic laws based on the common characteristics of all the particulars "sandwiched" between the general clauses.

Why is it important?

The article shows that rabbinic methods of interpreting the Torah for the purpose of legislation was not static. It proves that the formal rules governing the formation of this type of interpretation became more expansive as time progressed in order to give the impression that more and more rabbinic laws were rooted in the Torah. It also indicates that the Talmud is a multi-strata work and that each stratum preserves its own forms of interpretational logic.


Dr Michael Louis Chernick
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

I have always been fascinated by the rabbinic penchant for trying to show how their rulings were guided completely by the Torah. Though this is not particularly true of the Mishnah and Tosefta, it is true of the tannaitic halakhic midrashim and becomes commonplace with the amoraim and their anonymous heirs. I believe that this activity was necessary because Rabbis realized that failure to connect their teachings to the Written Torah would place them outside of the Jewish world they wished to inhabit and eventually to control.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Michael Louis Chernick