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)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Berachot 45 - Separate But Equal?

The Mishnah states that when three people eat together, it is their duty to invite each other to say the blessing after the meal. (Not stated here, but the formula is "chaevri nevarech" "friends, let us bless.) The proof text is: O magnify ye (plural) the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. (Ps 34:4) (2 + 1 speaker).

However, the Mishnah continues, "women, children and slaves are not counted in the three." The exclusion of children goes uncommented upon. However, women who are eating together (i.e. without men) invite each other. Same with slaves. But women and slaves do not invite each other "because it might lead to immorality" (now that's a theme worth investigating!)

But I digress. How is it that women (or slaves) can invite each other? Why isn't that just something the men do? Here is a fascinating acknowledgement from some 1500 years ago: "because each has a mind of her own."

Therefore, we have to assume, thanksgiving from three women, and their individual minds, is better than that from two men.

Men and women, under this traditional (and antiquated) system are separate, but equal.

Well, we know how well that works!

Still, for those who assume the text is always misogynistic, this is a nice acknowledgement of the equality of women before G-d. Even in ritual.

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