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)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Shabbat 60 - No-Nail Sandals


On the face of it - an odd restriction. Would the nails be considered removable ornaments so that there would be a fear of carrying? No, that doesn't seem reasonable. Any nails in a sandal would either be integrated (part of its construction or a reinforcement) or decoration. So what's the problem? And why only sandals, why not other kinds of shoes?

There's a story:

It was a time of persecution and some solders were hidden in a cave. One solder dropped a sandal near the enterance to the cave facing outwards. When the others saw it, they assumed a comrade had left the cave and been seen by the enemy who would attack them at any moment. So they pressed tightly further into the cave. In their panic "they killed of each other more than their enemies slew of them."

(two similar versions of the story are also recounted.)

How did the rabbis respond to the tragedy?

"In that hour it was enacted: A man must not go out with a nail-studded sandal."

This reminds me of the Biblacal story of Jacob who while wrestling with the angel has his hip pulled from his socket - in rememberance of which Jews don't eat the sciatic nerve of an animal. Particular (and pecular) restrictions expalined as mnemonics of significant events.

Perhaps these are folk etymologies but they speak to the way we honor the past.

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