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)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Shabbat 14 - Unintended Consequences

The Mishnah stated that on one occasion Shammai outnumbered Hillel and they enacted 18 measures (sounds like a "recess appointment.")

This page comments on some of those measures - or at least the assumption of what they are, since the Mishnah does not say.

The laws are about trumah - the portion of one's crop set aside for the priests - and what makes it unfit.

But it goes beyond. For beyond those 18, the Rabbis determined that a Torah scroll makes trumah unfit - and therefore a Torah scroll is unclean! Why.

"Said R. Mesharsheya: Because originally food of terumah was stored near the Scroll of the Law, with the argument, This is holy and that is holy. But when it was seen that they [the Sacred Books] came to harm, [by mice] the Rabbis imposed uncleanness upon them."

This looks like rule by mouse, unintended consequences.

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