A baraita (also spelled “beraita” or “braita”) is a term in Jewish rabbinic literature that refers to teaching outside of the Mishnah, the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral traditions known as the Oral Torah. The Mishnah, compiled by Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi around 200 CE, is the foundational text of the Talmud.
However, not all oral teachings were included in the Mishnah, and those that were left out are termed “baraitot” (plural for baraita). Baraitot were compiled in the Tosefta, a compilation of Jewish oral law from the late 2nd century, the period of the Mishnah, and they are also frequently cited in the Gemara—the component of the Talmud that comprises rabbinical analysis of and commentary on the Mishnah.
The term “baraita” literally means “outside” (Aramaic: ברא “outside”, תא “it”), indicating that these teachings are outside of the Mishnah’s canon. They are considered authoritative and are often used by the Amoraim (Talmudic sages from the 3rd to 5th centuries) to support or refute arguments, elucidate Mishnaic teachings, or introduce new teachings in the Gemara’s discussions.
The fact that baraitot were not included in the Mishnah does not imply that they are less important or authoritative; rather, they represent additional traditions or laws that were preserved and transmitted alongside the Mishnah and that provide a broader understanding of Talmudic law and discussions.