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The Gemara (gemar in Babylonian Aramaic means not only “to complete” but also to “learn”) is the “learning of tradition” or the “traditional teaching” itself. This teaching of the oral Torah is seen as the “completion” of the written Torah.

The Gemara is the basis for all codes of rabbinic law and is much quoted in other rabbinic literature.

The Gemara is that part of the Talmud that contains rabbinical commentaries and analysis of the core component, the Mishnah. After this core text was finalized by Rabbi Judah haNasi (Judah the Prince, 200 AD), it was studied exhaustively by generation after generation of rabbis in Babylonia and the Land of Israel. Their discussions were written down in the series of books that became the Gemara, which when combined with the Mishnah completes the Talmud.

There are two recensions of the Gemara, one compiled by the scholars of the Land of Israel (primarily in the academies of Tiberias and Caesarea, completed in 350-400 AD), and the other by those of Babylonia (primarily in the academies of Sura, Pumbedita and Mata Mehasia, completed in 500 AD). In general, the terms "Gemara" or "Talmud," without further qualification, refer to the Babylonian recension.

There are two Gemaras, as there are in fact two Talmuds, both share the same Mishnah. The Jerusalem Gemara is written in Western Aramaic, while the Babylonian Gemara is written in Eastern Aramaic. The rabbis of the Gemara are referred to as Amoraim.