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 25, 2012

Shabbat 22 - Hannukah: Light It, Don't Use It!

Being a post-Biblical celebration, Hannukah is defined as a "minor" holiday. It's precepts are not inherently sacred, and Shabbat rules do not apply during the 8 days. And yet, the Hannukiyah (Hannukah menorah) is not treated like an ordinary candelabra. One does not count money by its light - that is, use it for a blatantly secular purpose. (Shabbat candles, of course, cannot be used for any purpose except bringing joy.) And the question arises if one hannukiyah can be lit from the branches of another.

The answer to that last question is examined. The solution would depend on whether the important precept is "lighting" or "placing." The Hannukah lights are supposed to be seen publicly - outside the home. So which action matters? In the end (spoiler alert!) the words of the blessing give the answer.

Oh, and by the way - a Hannukah menorah can't be placed 20 cubits or more over the ground. So you guys on a lift with your giant menorahs - not doing a thing!

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