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)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Shabbat 68 – A Great Principle Was Stated There

The rabbis discuss the opening of a new Mishnah chapter :


This principle: a person who forgets the fundamental laws of Shabbat is liable for only one sin-offering no matter how many violations.

The corollary: a person who knows the fundamental laws of Shabbat is liable for each a sin-offering for each Shabbat violated. A person who knows the specific Shabbat is Shabbat is liable for a sin-offering for each category of work violated.

Before getting to the specifics, though, the discussion is on the idea of a “great principle.” This is a term rarely used in the Mishnah. Other examples include tithes and 7th year produce.

But who is really the exemplar of the "great principle" here begins? Someone who never learned the laws of Shabbat – such as a child taken captive and brought up among Gentiles. In other words, the rabbis change the mishnah text from “one who forgets” to “one who never knew.”

Unlike the great principle of our civil society: Ignorance of the law is an excuse.

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