Rav Tzair as a Pioneer of Talmud Study
Chaim Tchernowitz (1871-1949), a.k.a. Rav Tzair, was a scholar of Talmud who was born in Russia and later settled in New York. He is well known for his multi-volume works Toldot ha-Halakhah and Toldot ha-Poskim. Besides his many publication Rav Tzair was an active participant in Jewish cultural life. At one point he even called for the establishment of an American Sanhedrin.
While I am familiar with these two works of his, it was only yesterday that I came across another endeavor of his, Kitzur ha-Talmud. In this publication Rav Tzair wanted to create a modern day equivalent of the Rif’s Talmud Katan (Small Talmud). His intention was to present an abbreviated edition of the Talmud that included both halakhah and aggadah sources, along with a translation and explanation of these sources. Below are two approbations to the introductory volume that were written by Rav Kook and Aḥad Ha’am.
Below are a few sample pages.
Over fifty years before Steinsaltz and Artscroll, Rav Tzair was already thinking about bring Talmud to a larger audience. There were a number of other attempts in the early and mid-twentieth century to present Talmud in a more user-friendly fashion, and we hope to write about them in the future.