From the Talmud, a body of literature that is often technical and highly legalistic, emerge the personalities of many different Sages. The special way in which this literature is edited – in the form of debates and discussions – produces figures that are alive and human, characters that we can relate to, identify with, and love. The many details found in the various sources, when put together, reveal the personalities who produced the Oral Torah, with all the multiplicity of types and the differences among them.
Talmudic Images is a collection of 13 intimate portraits of selected personalities from the Talmud. These figures are heroes of a special kind. Their stories are not tales of war and battles and their chronicles are devoid of impressive events. These heroes are heroes of the spirit, whose acts of heroism lie in their thoughts and in their words. The palaces and fortresses they established are invisible to the eye.
This volume does not attempt to provide a history of the Sages, nor to describe their different schools of thought. It is intended to give a certain impression, a sketch of personalities, not only as thinkers and scholars, but also as human beings, whom we ourselves – as have others throughout the generations – can see standing before us today, alive.