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 22, 2012

Shabbat 50 – Beautifying!

There is a difference between cleaning something (or someone) and polishing, which changes the object. Certain powders, for example, do more than clean – they polish by reshaping the surface, an action not permitted on the Sabbath.

A certain material is mentioned and considered: “Barda.”
What is Barda, you may ask? Glad you asked, because the recipe is given!
“A third aloes, a third myrtle, and a third violets.” But not too much aloes, because that can remove hair!
But some view it as impermissible even on a weekday! Why? Because it’s use was not to clean but to “beautify.” Perhaps this was an admonishment to the men, not to become “feminized.” But that strict reading was rejected by the majority – who instructed that one must wash his face, hands and feet daily “in his Maker’s honor.” The proof? “The Lord hath made every thing for His own purpose.” (Prov.  16:4).
So “beautifying” is honoring G-d’s creation. A sure source of relief to the cosmetics industry!

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