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)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Berachot 35 - First Say Thank You

The Mishnah takes up the subject of blessings before meals, which vary depending on the item eaten. The problem is, there is no direct biblical commandment for such a blessing. After a meal, it is clear - based on Deuteronomy 8:10 "When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you." But despite attempts to read it in, a textual basis for the blessing before a meal cannot be found.

Which leaves us with principle: simple gratitude. "If he says a blessing when he is full, how much more should he do so when he is hungry?"

Eating without saying a blessing is compared to stealing from G-d. First, acknowledge the source of your food - this specific meal (and every meal) begins as a gift from G-d.

"R. Akiba said: One is forbidden to taste anything before saying a blessing over it."

Which is a simple way of saying "Thank you."

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