Masoret haShas (and haMidrash)

If you’ve ever studied Talmud from the traditional Vilna Shas layout, you’ve probably noticed or taken advantage of the Masoret haShas in the margins. Originally compiled by Joshua Boaz ben Simon Baruch in the sixteenth century, Masoret haShas are notes and cross references on the side of the page, directing readers to related passages found elsewhere in the Talmud. It was an immense work that religious scholars have added to over the centuries.

The William Davidson Talmud has our own take on Masoret haShas, finding and building over 50,000 textual links. And while the standard Masoret haShas connects different Talmudic texts, ours takes advantage of Sefaria’s library to create something new: connections between the Talmud and other texts as well, including nine major Midrashic works.

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Not only are our Midrashic connections unique to Sefaria’s William Davidson Talmud, but after manually checking 26 random pages, we estimate that over 10% of our Talmud-to-Talmud connections are new as well. Using an algorithm created by Dicta, Sefaria was able to not only find exact textual matches but also to find and connect different versions of stories and passages.

To learn more about Dicta’s algorithm, see “Identification of Parallel Passages Across a Large Hebrew/Aramaic Corpus.”

Stay tuned for more on The William Davidson Talmud and its connections.