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 16, 2012

Shabbat 13 - Super Separation

The two great schools of learning, based on the two First Century rabbis Hillel and Shammai. We almost always follow Hillel, ostensibly because the rulings are more lenient. Sometimes Hillel's are not as permissive, but we still follow them.

This one has always bothered me:

"Said R. Joseph, Come and hear: A fowl may be served together with cheese at the [same] table, but not eaten [with it]: this is Beth Shammai's view. Beth Hillel rule: It may neither be served nor eaten [together]!"

Hillel's ruling is followed today. I understand the reasoning, to prevent an unconscious mistake. Although not boiling a chicken in the milk of its mother seems a little over the top. And then to restrict even having cheese on the same table?

The Talmud goes on to a far more disruptive example - forbidding a husband and wife from sleeping in the same bed when she is in a state of impurity from menstration, even if they are both wrapped in their own clothes and do not touch.

The issue is preventing an accidental mistake. But it seems to take the conscious effort out. And these secondary restrictions begin to take on a life of their own, becoming in a sense primary. Restrictions upon restrictions. That's a lot of Separation!

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