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)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Berachot 46 - Etiquette

The giving of honors at a formal meal is discussed. According to Rabbi Johanan who said in the name of Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai: "The host breaks bread (says the blessing before) and the guest says grace (after the meal). The host breaks bread so that he should do so generously ('with a pleasant eye'), and the guest says grace so that he should bless the host."

Rabbi Shesheth gets into an argument with the Exilarch (the lay "Head of the Diaspora" or secular leader of the Jewish community) who believes that Persian etiquette is superior to the rabbinic. An intricate discussion of the placement of couches and the order of seating and hand washing ensues.

Fascinating look at how Jewish customs encounters changing cultural norms when living as a minority. The same thing happens today, and the way we respond to these changing realities determines our place on the Liberal-Traditional spectrum. And that's just etiquette!

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