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 12, 2012

Berachot 42 - Communal Meal

When wine is brought during the course of a meal, but not at the beginning, is a separate blessing needed over a dessert wine? A hotly contested question!

Better: if ten people are traveling together, even if they are all eating from a single loaf of bread each one says the blessing individually. But if they sit down to eat together (lit. "recline", even if they have separate loafs one blessing can be said for everyone.

The story is told of the Rab's students returning from his funeral which was held in another town. They sat down to eat and discussed this mishnah. They noted that the text says "recline to eat" and debated if they had to actually lie down or not. The debate wore on. Suddenly one of the students, R. Adda b. Ahabah, got up and tore a second rend in his clothes declaring: "Rab is dead, and we have not learnt the rules about grace after meals!" Presently, and old man came along and solved the problem by telling them that when a group decides to eat together it is the equivalent of what the Mishnah means by "reclining."


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