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Sifra, Torat Kohanim
ספרא, ספרא דבי רב, תורת כוהנים
Dates3rd century
PlaceEretz Yisrael
SourcesR. Akiva
Impacted on



  • Common names – 2ספרא,3 תורת כהנים
  • Other names – ספרא דבי רב4


3rd century


Sifra was redacted in Eretz Yisrael.


Mishnaic Hebrew


  • Manuscripts – Vatican 66, Breslau 108 (currently in the JTS library, JTS Rab. 2171), Vatican 31, Parma 139, Oxford 151, London 341.5
  • Printings – 
    • I.H. Weiss published an edition of Sifra in Vienna, 1862.6 To this day, Sifra is cited according to this edition. The edition has references to parallels and concise interpretive notes.
    • L. Finkelstein published (1983-1992) a critical edition of the first two dibburim of Sifra (Nedavah and Chovah) in five volumes. Each volume is distinct, as follows: an introductory volume, a text volume with parallels and a concise commentary,7 a volume of textual variants, a volume of extensive commentary, and an index volume8.
    • Two manuscripts have been printed as facsimile editions: Vatican 669 (New York, 1957, with an introduction by L. Finkelstein) and Vaticacn 31 (Jerusalem, 1972).
  • Textual layers – Scholars have identified a core of Sifra to which several sections were added.10
    • The core sections include expositions on: Vayikra 1:1-7:38, 10:8-18:6, 18:19, 18:24-20:5, 20:22-27:34.
    • The appended sections include:
      The baraita of the thirteen rules of Torah exposition (י"ג מידות שהתורה נדרשת בהן), appearing at the beginning of Sifra, 11מכילתא דמילואים, expounding Vayikra 8:1-10:7,12 and מכילתא דעריות, expounding 18:1-7,13 20:6-22, and, out of order at the end of the unit, a section on 18:18 and 18:28.



  • midrash halakhah


  • The core portions of Sifra (see above, Textual layers) are divided into twelve14 sections called dibburim or megillot, each with its distinct name, as follows:
    Nedavah (or Vayikra) – 1:1-3:17
    Chovah (or Nefesh) – 4:1-5:26
    Tzav – 6:1-7:38
    Sheratzim – 10:8-12:8
    Nega’im – 13:1-59
    Metzora – 14:1-57
    Zavim – 15:1-33
    Acharei – 16:1-18:30
    Kedoshim – 19:1-20:27
    Emor – 21:1-24:23
    Sinai – 25:1-26:2
    Bechukotai – 26:3-27:34
    See above, Textual layers regarding the additional sections of Sifra.
    Each dibbur (or megillah) is further subdivided into parashot, perakim, and halakhot.


  • Sifra differs from other midreshei halakhah by its relative lack of aggadah, and its particularly lengthy deliberations. See also, Introduction to the Midreshei Halakhah.


Significant Influences

– Sifra makes more extensive use of Mishnah than other midreshei halakhah.

Occasional Usage

Possible Relationship


Other Midrashim

  • – 

Medieval Exegetes

  • – Sifra is cited and discussed widely by many medieval exegetes. Notably, Rashi cites it extensively in his commentary on Vayikra.


  • – The Talmud Bavli discusses many baraitot that are extremely similar to sections of Sifra.15
    Commentaries of Rishonim:16
    R. Avraham b. David (Ra’avad)17
    Rabbenu Hillel18
    R. Shimshon of Sens19
    Many Acharonim have authored commentaries on Sifra.20
    See also above, Printings, for the commentaries contained in the critical editions of Sifra.