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, October 4, 2012

Berachot 64 - The Ending is Familiar

When I was growing up in my father’s synagogue, on every Shabbat evening service after the final song, Ein Keloheynu, my father of blessed memory would read aloud a strangely worded paragraph. It was in smaller type so I was sure, in my childish way, that he was mistaken and it should be read silently. Although I never said anything to him about it, it always felt out of place and I did quite get the point.

Today I realized that this paragraph is the conclusion of the Tractate Berachot. It was my first experience hearing the language and logic of the Talmud – which is perhaps way it always felt a bit familiar. And the concluding sentence is the way I conclude just about every service I lead – an unconscious nod to the memory of my father, Rabbi Moshe Cahana (z”l). From now on it will be conscious.

I can hear his voice as I read these words.

Rabbi Eleazar quoted Rabbi Hanina who said: Scholars increase peace in the world, as it is written in Scripture: ‘When all they children shall be taught of the Lord, great shall be the peace of thy children.’ Read not baw-na-yih, ‘thy children,’ but bo-no-yih, ‘thy builders.’ Great peace have they that love Thy Torah; and there is no stumbling for them. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For the sake of my brethren and friends, I would say, Peace be with thee! For the sake of the house of the Lord our G-d, I would seek thy good. The Lord will give strength unto His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.

(From the Silverman Siddur [Rabbinical Assembly of America, 1946] p. 157, quoting Berachot 64a.)

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