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 24, 2012

Shabbat 21 - Hannukah Retold

The discussion of what wicks and oils are inappropriate for Shabbat (because the might need tending to) leads to the introduction of the Hannukah lights - and to the holiday itself.

"What is Hannukah?" the Talmud asks? A fair question since it is a post-Biblical holiday celebrating a military victory. No - the emphasis will be away from the rebellion (unlike the description in the book of Maccabees). Here, the story of the cruse of oil which lasts eight days is told.

Putting the emphasis on a supposed miracle rather than a victory against oppressors might have been rather important for those still living under Roman or Babylonian rule! Fascinating to see how a holiday is reinterpreted to deal with contemporary situations.

Again Hillel and Shammai disagree - this time over the order of lighting candles. Shammai says you start the first day with 8 candles and reduce daily, Hillel that we start with 1 and add each day - because one does not reduce sanctity.

No mention of latkes or dreidels. Or presents.

Light is enough.

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