Kallah (Hebrew: מסכת כלה) is the name of a teachers' convention that was held twice a year in Babylonian Academies, by the Jews then in captivity in Bablon, after the beginning of the amoraic period, in the two months Adar and Elul. .
For each year's convention of the Kallah, a treatise of the Mishnah was written forming the subject of explanation and discussion at the convention, according to Ta'an. 10b (see R. Hananeel in Kohut, l.c. iv. 227b). Rabbinowitz (1965) cites opinions attributing authorship to either Jehudai Gaon (8th century) or to Eliezer ben Hyrcanus (c.100 CE) with later additions and redaction.
The regular Kallah conventions concerned issues related to marriage, chastity, and moral purity. The subject matter was largely taken from the Babylonian Talmud
In the land of Israel there was no Kallah. A. Schwarz (Jahrbuch für Jüdische Gesch. und Litteratur, 1899, ii. 102) claims that this cannot be asserted with certainty, but available historical records show that the Kallah was purely an institution practiced during the Babylonian captivity.
Origins of Kallah
The word Kallah is always written with ה as in כלה, the Hebrew word for "bride"; but the manner in which this meaning has been connected with a convention of teachers (Levy, Neuhebr. Wörterbuch, ii. 321) has not been satisfactorily explained. Perhaps the word is merely another form of the Aramaic כללא = "totality," although this word never occurs in traditional literature as a designation for a collection or assembly of people. It may be connected also with the Aramaic כלילא = "garland," the assembly of teachers being thought of as a garland adorning the academy (comp. "Ḥazi ha-Goren" and "Kerem" as designations of the circle which the Sanhedrin formed). In Latin, also, "corona" means "circle," "assembly." Kohut (Aruch Completum, iv. 428a) has a similar explanation, although he adds an incorrect comparison with a Persian word.
The importance of the Kallah Convention (referred to under another name) is extolled in the Midrash Tanḥuma (Noaḥ, § 3): "God has appointed the two academies ["yeshibot"] for the good of Israel. In them day and night are devoted to the study of the Torah; and thither come the scholars from all places twice a year, in Adar and Elul, and associate with one another in discussions on the Torah." The greater the attendance at the convention, the greater was the renown of the academy. Hence Abaye says (Ber. 6b): "The most important part of the Kallah is a crowd." There was a saying in Babylonia that whoever dreamed of going into a forest would become president of the Kallah (the Kallah being likened to a forest).
- This article incorporates text from the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, a publication now in the public domain.
- Rabbinowitz, J. (1965), "Introduction", in A. Cohen, The Minor Tractates of the Talmud: Massektoth Ketannoth, Volume II, London: Soncino Press .