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, September 27, 2012

Berachot 56 – Dream Interpretation Kit

Since we learned on the previous page that dreams are one of the three things one should supplicate for (see previous posting), this page gives an extensive list of the meaning of certain dream symbols. Here is a typical example which I like because of the play on Hebrew words:

Our Rabbis taught: If one sees a reed [kaneh] in a dream, he may hope for wisdom, for it says: Get [keneh] wisdom. (Prov. 4:5) If he sees several reeds, he may hope for understanding, since it says: With all thy getting [kinyaneka] get understanding.  (Prov. 4:7)

There seems to be a tension between what to the modern eye looks like the psychology of dreams and the assumption that dreams are Divine messages as they often appear in the Torah. For example, the interpretation of a dream may well depend on the interpreter:

Bar Hedya was an interpreter of dreams. To one who paid him he used to give a favorable interpretation and to one who did not pay him he gave an unfavorable interpretation.

By the way, Bar Hedya comes to a rather gruesome end when he refuses to interpret the dream of the king’s wardrobe keeper, just before all the king’s silk clothes are eaten by worms!

But there is another dream image I love:

It has been taught: Pumpkins are shown in a dream only to one who fears heaven with all his might.

This is because not matter how large a pumpkin may grow, it never gets too tall – a reminder of humility.

Nice image for me, as I get ready to build my sukkah. 

Happy Dreams!

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