Ketuvot 86 ~ 1,000 pages, and Counting

Tomorrow we will study the 1,000th page of Talmud in the current Daf Yomi cycle.  That's right, Ketuvot 86 is the 1,000th page. Here's how:









35=ראש השנה



29=מועד קטן




Add that all up and you get...1,015. Whoops? Not really. As you may recall, each new מסכת (tractate) of the Talmud has a title page, but the text always starts on page 2 (ב). So we need to subtract one page for each of the 15 tractates we've covered so far. And 1,015-15=1,000.

Pagination in the Talmud

It wasn't always the case that Ketuvot 86 meant the same thing to all readers. Before the printed Talmud, everything was written by hand, and your particular manuscript (if you were lucky enough to have one) might well differ from that in another town.  Here, for example, is the opening of the ninth chapter of Ketuvot, (the one we are currently studying in this Daf Yomi cycle,) in the 1342 manuscript held in the Munich State Library (Babylonischer Talmud – BSB Cod. heb. 95. 1342.) You'll notice how completely different it looks from anything we have today:

 /* Style Definitions */
	{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
	mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
    Opening of Ketuvot Chapter 9 (=83a),  Babylonischer Talmud – BSB Cod. heb. 95. 1342

Opening of Ketuvot Chapter 9 (=83a), Babylonischer Talmud – BSB Cod. heb. 95. 1342

According to Marvin Heller (who knows everything about early Hebrew printing and the printing of the Talmud) it was Daniel Bomberg, a Christian printer who lived in Venice, who established the form of the Talmud that we have today.

The first complete edition of the Babylonian Talmud, the edito princeps, was printed from 1519/20-23. The Bomberg Talmud became a standard for the editions that followed, almost all subsequent editions adhered to his layout and foliation.
— Marvin Heller. Earliest Printings of the Talmud. In Mintz and Goldstein. Printing the Talmud 2002. p 73.

Bomberg printed the tractate Ketuvot in 1521, and so that is the earliest date we would recognize where we are now- Ketuvot 86, the 1,000th page of the Talmud. 

Some Light Summer Reading Suggestions

There are many novels with 1,000 pages of more. Perhaps you've read JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Trilogy,  or Tolstoy's War and Peace?  What about Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, or Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, (only 1,504 pages, in paperback!) None of them appeal to you? Want something a bit more biblical? Then try Thomas Mann's Joseph and His Brothers, a retelling of a few chapters of 1,400 plus pages. (It must be good - he won a Nobel Prize.) Too high-brow? Then consider Stephen Kings's It (only 1,104 pages) Too scary? Then go for Charles Dicken's classic Bleak House; it's a story about the injustices of the British legal system, and the Penguin Classic edition is 1,096 pages long. Perfect beach reading.  

I looked up War and Peace and it’s about this guy Pierre who fights in France, and all this terrible stuff happens to him, but in the end because of his charm he gets to be with this girl he really loves, and who really loves him even though she cheated on him.
— Gary Shtenygart, Super Sad True Love Story

Visualizing Numbers



Back on August 3, 2012 we opened the new cycle of Daf Yomi with Berachot 2. That day just happened to be ט׳ו באב.



Ten. It's no big deal really, other than we count using base 10 because that's how many fingers we have. We learned the tenth page of  the Talmud (Berachot 11) on August 12, 2012.

Ten is actually of great importance in Judiasm. Here are some of the significant ones:

  • There were Ten Plagues in Egypt
  • There were Ten Commandments. 
  • The Torah (Deut. 26:12) commands that the poor be given one-tenth of our produce: כי תכלה לעשר את כל מעשר תבואתך בשנה השלישת שנת המעשר 
  • We observe the annual Ten Days of Repentance from ראש השנה to יום כפור.
  • There were Ten Martyrs that are rememberer in Jewish prayers on יום כפור.
  • There are said to be Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.
  • There are Ten Sephirot in the Kabbalah.
  • Ten men are needed to make a minyan.


We studied the 100th page on Nov 10, 2012. That was Shabbat 38.  100 is of a special number, it being the square of 10. 

We make a big deal out of 100. It's the basis of our percentage calculations, and we count centuries based on their 100 year cycles. 100 is also the sum of the cubes of the first four integers: 100=[1x1x1]+[2x2x2]+[3x3x3]+[4x4x4].

Rabbi Meir taught that  a person should make 100 ברכות every day ( מנחות דף מג, ב). A person should hear 100 notes blown on the שופר on ראש השנה.


1,000 is also a huge deal in our world and has a bunch of nicknames, like a grand, a G, a kilo, and k. It’s also part of the elite chain of numbers in the “order-of-magnitude” chain, which we know as million, billion, trillion, etc. Million is actually the third number in that chain, with the dud 1 as the first number and 1,000 as the second number. And 1,000 is the key multiplier that defines the whole chain.
That said, 1,000’s dirty secret is that it’s a fraud like 10 and can’t be made into a square. The square root of 1,000 is an embarrassing 31.62277660168 etcetera without even a vinculum
— Tim Urban. From 1 to 1,000.

So we’ve covered 1,000 pages of the Babylonian Talmud. There are 2,711 pages in all, so we’re not even half-way done. But we’re closer than we were yesterday, and we will be even closer tomorrow. Congratulations to all who've reached this milestone.

Bomberg Talmud  Ketuvot , title page 1521. From Marvin Heller,  Printing the Talmud; A History of the Earliest Printed Editions of the Talmud  1992, p.147.

Bomberg Talmud Ketuvot, title page 1521. From Marvin Heller, Printing the Talmud; A History of the Earliest Printed Editions of the Talmud 1992, p.147.

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