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)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Berachot 62 – Under the Bed!

A favorite story of mine, and not just because the protagonist is my namesake (family ancestor?)

Rabbi Kahana wants to learn everything possible from his teacher, Rab. So one day, he hides under his teacher’s bed. He listens as the elder is in bed with his wife: talking, joking – being, shall we say, intimate. Kahana lets out an expression from under the bed, startling his master. When he is called on his highly inappropriate behavior, the student says: “It is a matter of Torah and I am required to learn it!”

So some negative lessons to learn here, about invasion of privacy! But also, that sexual behavior between spouses is a matter of Torah, and that the master practices foreplay. Jewish sexual ethics is not restrictive and appreciates mutual pleasure. Intimacy and communication are key. And it is private - you don’t need an audience.

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