What is Talmud Tweets?

What is Talmud Tweets? A short, personal take on a page of Talmud - every day!

For several years now, I have been following the tradition of "Daf Yomi" - reading a set page of Talmud daily. With the start of a new 7 1/2 year cycle, I thought I would share a taste of what the Talmud offers, with a bit of personal commentary included. The idea is not to give a scholarly explanation. Rather, it is for those new to Talmud to give a little taste - a tweet, as it were - of the richness of this text and dialogue it contains. The Talmud is a window into a style of thinking as well as the world as it changed over the centuries of its compilation.

These are not literal "tweets" - I don't limit myself to 140 characters. Rather, these are intended to be short, quick takes - focusing in on one part of a much richer discussion. Hopefully, I will pique your interest. As Hillel says: "Go and study it!" (Shabbat 31a)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Berachot 26 - Prayer and Sacrifices

A new chapter of the Mishnah begins to be discussed. The opening Mishnah of Berachot begins with the question of how early in the day one can begin to say the morning prayer. This chapter begins by asking how late one can say it. Then the upper time limit for the afternoon and evening prayers are discussed as well. Why all these clear delineations? Because, it is asserted, the prayer service was instituted to replace (and model) the sacrificial services after the Temple was destroyed (in 70 CE). Just as sacrifices had to be brought in their correct time, and the correct manner so prayer did as well.

But, the counter comes, the tradition is that the prayer services are much older: the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob each instituted one of the three prayer services (and texts are brought to prove it)! Just so, asserts Rabbi Jose ben Hanina "the Patriarchs instituted the Tefillahs and the Rabbis found a basis for them in the offerings."

Don't you love it when both sides are right?

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