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)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Berachot 29 - Keep It Fresh!

Back to prayer (oh, right. . .). 

The discussion is primarily about what to do if the reader or the individual forgets part of the T’fillah (Amidah - the standing) prayers. Also, how to shorten the prayer if one is saying it in a dangerous place or time.

But an interesting commentary on the Mishnah (from yesterday’s page 28b) “If one makes prayers a fixed task, it not a genuine supplication.” What is meant by “fixed task”? Important to know if you want to keep it real.

Rabbi Jacob ben Idi said in the name of R. Oshaiah: “Anyone whose prayer is like a heavy burden.”

The Rabbis say: “Whoever does not say it in the manner of supplication.”

Rabbah and Rabbi Joseph both say: “Whoever is not able to insert something fresh in it.”

(I love this balance of Kevah and Kavannah – fixed prayer vs fresh prayer. Adding intention, freedom, creativity into worship. But one also has to be careful:

Rabbi Zera said: “I can insert something fresh, but I am afraid to do so for fear I should become confused!”

(Keep it fresh - but don't get lost! Good advice.)

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