A story in three contexts: The redaction of a toseftan pericope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The introduction of non-halakhic material into a halakhic section of a classical rabbinic work is a redactional choice that can substantially affect the interpretation of both kinds of material. Understanding the relationship between the non-halakhic material and the surrounding halakhic material can affect one's assessment of the redactor's activity. Conversely, assumptions concerning the redactor's activity can affect the interpretation of the non-halakhic material. The relationship between halakhic and non-halakhic material and the implications of that relationship for redaction critical investigations are particularly complex in the case of the Tosefta, because the latter is not a completely independent composition. Some scholars see the Tosefta as an interpretative work based on the Mishna while others argue for a degree of redactional independence. What then is the proper context for the interpretation of materials found in the Tosefta-the Tosefta itself or the Mishnah? The answer to this question will crucially affect our interpretation of the non-halakhic material included in the Tosefta and the relation of that material to the halakhic material. This article demonstrates the difficulty in determining the proper redactional context for the interpretation of Toseftan passages that contain halakhic and non-halakhic material by examining the story of Rabbi Yehuda walking behind his teachers in T. Berakhot 1.2. The reason for inserting the story can be understood in three ways, corresponding to three different definitions of the halakhic context, in which the Mishnah has a greater or lesser controlling influence over the Tosefta.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-127
Number of pages19
JournalAJS Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Thanks are due to the Beit Shalom Fund, Kyoto, Japan, and the Kolatch Graduate Program in Talmudic Studies in Bar-Ilan University for their generous support of this research.


Dive into the research topics of 'A story in three contexts: The redaction of a toseftan pericope'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this