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, November 13, 2012

Shabbat 41 - Torah in the Baths

A sweet story is told. Rabbi Zera is avoiding His teacher Rab Judah, because he wants to leave Babylonia and his master in order to emigrate to Israel. But he decides to seek out one last lesson. Zera finds his master, Rab Judah, in the baths giving order in Hebrew to his attendant:

"Bring me natron (a kind of soap) and a comb, open your mouths and expel the heat, and drink of the water of the baths."

From this, Rabbi Zera is satisfied. He learns that

1. Secular matters can be discussed in Hebrew

2. The heat of the bath which causes perpetration is healthy

3. In the bath one should heat the inside (by drinking warm water) as well as the outside.

This too is Torah!

Now if this surprises you - you are wondering - where's the great spiritual insight - it's important to remember that for the Rabbis, "Torah" encompasses all of life. Taking care of the body, a gift from G-d, is as important as taking care of the soul.

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