Dictionaries at SVARA
Learners at SVARA are empowered to build a traditionally radical culture of Talmud study by working out texts in the original language (i.e. without translation). For this reason, finding a dictionary that works for you is super important! In Talmud-focused shiurim, we ask learners to have their own Jastrow and Frank dictionaries. Here is some helpful information about the many versions out there!
We suggest picking up these dictionaries from a local (Jewish) bookstore or directly from their publishers, which are linked below. If purchasing dictionaries is not financially accessible to you, please reach out to our Program Coordinator Nat ([email protected]) and we’ll work together to figure out how to support you in getting what you need to learn in the bet midrash!
Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Bavli, Talmud Yerushalmi and Midrashic Literature, by Marcus Jastrow:
Publisher Link for Paper Copy: Jastrow Dictionary of the Talmud
You can access this dictionary in print or online. Many of our learners find printed materials to be quite helpful, so if those are accessible to you we encourage you to go for it! That being said, only you know what you need in order to learn best.
About the printed Jastrow Dictionary:
- The typeface in printed editions of the Jastrow Dictionary is quite small. Many of our learners and teachers use a Magnabrite magnifying glass to increase the size and clarity of the text. You can find these magnifiers here. We also recommend this magnifier with two flat edges, which fits in the inner fold of books (so neat!).
About the online Jastrow Dictionary:
The Jastrow dictionary is available online in several formats, which some folks find more accessible than printed copies. We recommend the following two options:
- Option #1 is the Tyndale Archive Jastrow Dictionary. This is a complete scan of the printed dictionary. You can find entries using the first letter of the word you are looking up and then selecting the first word on the page that will contain your entry. You can enlarge the pages by using the interface’s built-in enlargement tools, which are available in the page header. One benefit of using this option is that it feels more like the book. Additionally, if your chevruta is using a printed dictionary, you will be looking at the exact same thing and can share page numbers.
- Option #2 is the Jastrow Dictionary on Sefaria. With this option, you can type the root or word you are looking for into a search box (via the onscreen Hebrew keyboard) and jump directly to an entry. You may need to scroll backward and forward because there can be multiple entries for the same term. Sefaria includes a built-in function to adjust the font size which you can access by selecting the “Aא” button on the upper right side of the page. There are a few noteworthy benefits of using this option. First, the digitized text is more clear than the Tyndale Archive’s scans. Sefaria is also compatible with screen reader technology. That being said, using this option might make it harder to get on the “same page” as your chevruta (there are no page numbers), and sometimes the search function takes you to unexpected places.
The Practical Talmud Dictionary, by Rabbi Yitzhak Frank:
Publisher link for paper copy: The Practical Talmud Dictionary
At this time there is no online version of The Frank Dictionary, but as we offered above please reach out to our Program Coordinator Nat ([email protected]) if you need support finding the best option for you, regardless of cost.