Faculty Advisors: Janet Murray and Brad Rittenhouse
The Talmud is a collection of religious works that represents the core canon of Jewish law, lore, and wisdom. It is studied by hundreds of thousands of people today around the world. Aside from constituting the standard curriculum for Jewish seminaries and yeshivot and the launching point for Jewish legal discussions, it is also studied by a growing number of laymen and scholars alike in the ever-popular Daf Yomi (daily page) learning program. The vast majority of this study is done through the printed text, paginated into 2,711 folios. The page has a distinct and standardized visual form (tzurat hadaf). It is this unique—and culturally revered—form, which visually relates commentaries, related texts, and references, as well as the inherent hypertextuality of the main text, that makes the Talmud a compelling case study for the enhancement that digital affordances can provide.
While the largest free projects allow access to the text of the Talmud and its commentaries, they do not provide the classic and integrative visual form of the Talmud. This visual form has great historical, cultural, and pragmatic significance, and we believe that it has been and will continue to be important for beginner and advanced users alike. We wish to emulate this visual form in a digital context, while taking advantage of the unique digital affordances of the web to provide accessibility and enhancement tools.