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, November 1, 2012

Shabbat 29 - Rags to . . . Wicks

The Mishnah (28b) relates to rages which are repurposed into wicks for Shabbat lights, i.e. in oil lamps. The concern is that garments can be subject to uncleanness (if, for example, the person wearing them had an emission) and would be inappropriate for a Shabbat light. What defines a "garment" vs a "rag"? Value and intention.

"If [material] less than three [handbreadths] square is set aside for stopping a bath, pouring from a pot, or cleaning a mill . . . it is (potentially) unclean: that is R. Eliezer's view"


"All admit that if it was thrown away on the refuse heap . . .it is clean; if one placed it in a chest, all agree that it is unclean."

That is, if it was thrown away and recovered, it is not a "garment." But if it had been put away (as in a chest) it must have had some value to the owner and is therefore not a "rag."

Intention matters, even in the smallest of things.

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