The Hebrew word gemara, from the Hebrew root gmor, means “final,” or an end to something, as for instance graduation. In Jewish usage today it refers to numerous commentaries on the Mishna written by the Amoraim.
The Amoraim write in a consistent format. They begin by citing a Mishnaic law. Then several of the amoraim offer their respective opinions on its meaning. This forces the reader to think and analyze the opinions for himself to reach, as closely as possible, God’s will for us as he expresses it in each mitzvah.