Whole Torah


What is on this site?

This is the home site of a new edition of the Mishnah, Hamishnah C'Darchah. All six orders of the Mishnah are now freely available here in Hebrew (iso-8859-8-i) HTML. They are best viewed with Microsoft Internet Explorer 5. There is also a collection of articles, both in Hebrew and in English, which deal with "woven texts" in general, and specifically, the Mishnah.


Why was it created?

All of the research reported on this site has been carried out, over the course of twenty-five years, for its own sake, torah l'shmah. The site has been created for two reasons: to make available the results of this research and to encourage others to continue the work I have begun.


Who is it for?

There is material on the site for students of traditional Jewish texts as well as students of Bible and literature. The full Hebrew text of Hamishnah C'Darchah is here for students of Jewish tradition. A collection of articles on woven-texts in the Torah and the Mishnah should be of interest both to students of the Bible and of ancient literature.


Who is behind it?

Let me introduce myself. My name is Moshe Kline. I live in Jerusalem and spend most of my time on this project. My BA is from St. John's College in Annapolis Md., the Great Books school, where I had the privilege to study under Jacob Klein. I was also influenced by the writings of Mr. Klein's friend, Leo Strauss. Although I did graduate work at The Jewish Theological Seminary of America and Yeshiva University, I am neither a Rabbi nor a professional scholar.

After settling in Israel in 1969, I was a farmer for fifteen years. In 1979 I met the late Rabbi Leon Ashkenazi, who was known in France as Manitou. He was one of the spiritual leaders of the post-war French Jewish community. After I studied works of the Maharal with him, he encouraged me to work on the Mishnah in the light of the Maharal's methodology. The outcome of my research on the Mishnah is Hamishnah C'Darchah.


What are woven texts?

Some parts of the Bible appear to be lists lacking clear rules of organization. Some of these lists are much more coherent when they are arranged as tables. I refer to the genre of sources that should be read as tables as woven texts. The archetypal woven text is the Decalogue. The list of laws spoken by the Lord from Mount Sinai in Exodus should be seen as a two-dimensional text composed of two columns (thus two tablets!) and five rows. Each row contains two laws, which taken together, like two points defining a line, define a conceptual category. The two columns have a fixed relationship to each other that is expressed in each of the pairs. The five categories combine with the two aspects of the columns to create a super-text. This super-text is virtually invisible until the primary text, the Decalogue, is laid out in the appropriate tabular format. The additional information available in the super-text may be a form of what Leo Strauss referred to as "writing between the lines". The knowledge and skills required to read and write woven texts continued at least until the third century CE, when they were applied to the writing of the Mishnah. This could point to a hitherto unknown literary tradition that existed from the time of the earliest Biblical texts until the publication of the Mishnah, well over one thousand years.

Analysis of the woven texts uncovers clear conceptual lines that are totally invisible when reading the text as a linear document: the author's hidden agenda. I first reported the phenomenon in The Literary Structure of the Mishnah, Aley Sefer 14, Bar Ilan University, 1987. In The Art of Writing the Oral Tradition I explore the implications of reading The Ethics of the Fathers, a part of the Mishnah, as a woven text.

So far, I have identified woven texts in two separate but related sources: the Torah and the Mishnah. In both of these texts the tables are used for organizing legal codes. The paradigm, of course, is the Decalogue. (See my article: The Decalogue as Wisdom Literature) Additional woven texts in the Torah include all of Leviticus and extensive legal codes in Exodus and Deuteronomy. The second source is the Mishnah, the legal compendium written in the third century by Rabbi Judah the Prince, known simply as Rabbi, or in transliteration, Rebbi. The Mishnah includes over five hundred chapters. With few exceptions, all should be read as woven texts.

The most intriguing aspect of the woven texts that I have encountered is their conceptual integrity. Certain principles of organization can be found in all of the sections of the Torah which have been identified, as well as in the Mishnah. This fact in itself is not so surprising, considering that the Mishnah is, in part, a codification of Biblical laws. What is surprising is the conceptual framework indicated by the rules of organization. They are entirely consistent with elements of Kabbalah which do not appear explicitly until nearly a thousand years after the writing of the Mishnah. A clear example of the compatibility between certain Kabbalistic principals and the structure of the Mishnah, as described by the Maharal of Prague, can be found in The Art of Writing the Oral Tradition. The following is a partial synopsis of that article.

When the five pairs found in the first chapter of Avot are arranged in a table with two columns and five rows, the columns have the Kabbalistic values of "right' and "left", chesed and din. (The order of appearance reflects the direction of Hebrew, right to left.) As the Maharal explains at great length in his ground breaking Derech Chaim, the first speaker in each pair, the Nasi, or President, consistently takes a position that the Maharal identifies with "love" while the second, the Chief Justice, takes a position consistent with "fear". Thus the right hand column can be associated with the Kabbalistic value of "right", chesed, and the left hand column with "left, din." This is consistent in all the woven texts in the Torah and Mishnah. The "right" is on the right and the "left" is on the left. The differentiation between chesed and din helps the reader achieve a clear overview of the text.


Hamishnah C'Darchah

The primary purpose of this site to make available the full Hebrew text of Hamishna C'Darchah. In this edition of the Mishnah I have arranged the text in tabular form. Each chapter is presented on a single page as a table. I have not altered the text in any way nor changed the order in which its parts appear. In the past, I distributed hard copy to teachers and students in the Jerusalem area. Their hands on experience convinced me that Hamishna C'Darchah is a useful study aid to students on all levels. First of all, it is simply very convenient to have the full text of a chapter available on a single page with no commentary. Just by looking at the arrangement of the page, one can immediately get an overview of the chapter.

Rather than incur the high costs of printing a hard-bound edition, with all the limitations of distribution, I decided to make the text freely available on the WWW. In order to view the text I strongly recommend downloading IE from Microsoft. It allows the surfer to read all forms of Hebrew on the web automatically. I grant all students and teachers the right to freely distribute the text as it appears on these pages. In order to print individual chapters, highlight the chapter with the mouse. Then choose "print" from the "file" window. In the print window choose "selection".

The text I have chosen is unpointed Kaufman. This may create difficulties for beginning students. The word shel appears as a prefix rather than a separate word. I assume that Hamishnah C'Darcah will not be read alone without a conventional text. That should eliminate most of the problems. On the positive side, this exposes students to the differences between manuscripts. Letters in parenthesis indicate Albeck's divisions into mishniot.

All of seder zrayim and half of sedr nzikin are color coded. The Color Code is accessed through the index page of the Mishnah text. It is possible to use these chapters as a first introduction to Hamishnah C'Darchah, by examining the divisions I have made in the chapters, together with the linguistic parallels indicated by the colors.