“Whoever did not see the celebration of the drawing of the water (simchat beit hashoeva) has never witnessed joy in their life” (Sukkah 51a). The Mishnah goes on to describe the dancing, the juggling, the music, and more of these most festive days. In an astonishing display of dexterity, the Gemara records how Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel would juggle eight torches of fire, “and they did not touch one another, and there was no living being who could do this” (ibid 53a).
The Talmud is the written record of the Oral Law. With the destruction of the Temple and subsequent exile of the Jewish people, it was no longer feasible to rely on oral transmission of our tradition. In recording teachings spanning some 600 years, both the Mishnah (circa 220 CE) and the Gemara (circa 500 CE) meticulously recorded not only what was said, but who said it, and in whose name it was said.