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 30, 2012

Berachot 60 - Kidneys and Other Wonderful Things

Oh, how to even decide what to talk about?! This page is so filled with wonderfulness, I feel like going on and on.

Don’t worry, I won’t.

But just to give a sampling, there is:

     1. Details on how and why one says a blessing for when bad things happen as for good

     2. How we know that permission is given from G-d for physicians to heal

     3. Admonitions not to say certain things, so as not to give an invitation to Satan

     4. Trust that things generally turn out for the good, even when it doesn’t seem so

     5. A sexual ethic which acknowledges and even gives precedence to the female orgasm

     6. A prayer for going to the bathroom, prayer for going to sleep, prayer upon awakening, and step-by-step prayers for the morning routine (now incorporated into the morning service as “Nissim B'chol Yom” – “everyday miracles”)

     7. Admonition to keep words to G-d brief

     8. Why a gentleman never walks behind a lady

     9. Textual evidence for the Good and Evil inclination (ok – I’ll give you this one: in Gen. 2:7 when the human is created, the word vayeetzer [“formed”] is written with two yuds – not so with animals [Gen. 2:19] – thus indicating two natures to the human!)

   10. G-d was Best Man to Adam at his wedding to Eve

Ah – these are fabulous! But, speaking of the “Evil Inclination” I’ll just note one other:

Our Rabbis taught: Man has two kidneys, one of which prompts him to good, the other to evil; and it is natural to suppose that the good one is on his right side and the bad one on his left, as it is written, A wise man's understanding is at his right hand, but a fool's understanding is at his left. (Eccl. X, 2)

As a Left-handed person, I take offense. 

But how interesting to see their understanding of the kidneys as the source (or location) of the Evil or Good Inclination!

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