When Moses asked Pharaoh to allow the ancient Hebrews to leave Egypt for a three-day religious festival, Pharaoh requested some clarification ( Exodus 10:8). He asked מִ֥י וָמִ֖י הַהֹלְכִֽים, "who precisely is going?"
The Mi vaMi project intends to apply this question to the Babylonian Talmud. When studying the Talmud, it is certainly important to know the give-and-take, the arguments and rejoinders, and the theories and proofs. However, it is also often critical to know just who is engaging in discourse. Is it Abaye and Rava, or Abaye and Rabba? How are the participants in the discourse related to one another? Are they, for instance, student and teacher, colleagues, or opposing heads of the academies at Sura and Pumpedita? Are they in the same generation, or are they separated by decades or centuries?
The impact of such knowledge extends to practical decided law. (For example, the law will be decided like Rava over his collegue Abaye, but like Abaye over his teacher Rabba.) It can aid in our understanding of the historical development of the sugya. (For instance, the Revadim academic approach to Talmud study examines the sugya as it existed and was understood in different time slices, in different generations of Tannaim and Amoraim.) It can aid in our understanding of the discourse itself. (For instance, we might see a dispute between two Amoraim about some point of law, and that in subsequent generations, students align themselves to the positions of their teachers.) We are brief here, but elaboration on each of these points will be offered elsewhere.
There are several aspects of Mi vaMi in stages of development, and have not been integrated into our website. The following features are currently available:
We are grateful for the technical and scholarly resources made available for free and open-source by Sefaria. We have made use of their database, which contains their Hebrew/Aramaic/English talmud text. The hand-coded knowledge about generations of Tannaim and Amoraim, which generation they belong to, and who is a student of whom (from which we build the first graph) is drawn from tables in Sefaria's database.
The incredible resource of the aligned Hebrew/English Talmudic text, which we pull from Sefaria, is the The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren Noé Talmud, with commentary by Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz. It was released with a CC BY-NC license by Koren Publishers.
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