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 16, 2012

Shabbat 74 - Potter Works

The 39 categories of "labor" found on the previous page (73) are considered primary categories, which were used the the building of the Tabernacle (as explained on 49b). There might be several secondary labors within each of those - for example multiple kinds of "kneading" or "tying." The multiple subcategories are subsumed under the primary. That is, only one sin-offering was brought for multiple violations within the same category.

However, each violation across primary categories necessitated a separate sacrifice.

An example is given of a potter. Making an earthenware vessel on Shabbat would make one culpable for 7 sin offerings!

The violations are understood to be:

1. GRINDING - the earth to make powder for clay

2. SELECTING - pulling out the bits which do not grind

3. SIFTING - the resultant powder

4. KNEADING - the powder with water

5. SMOOTHING - the clay when shaping it into a vessel

6. KINDLING - fire in the kiln

7. BOILING - which is the hardening of the vessel in the kiln.

Seven categories, seven violations, seven sacrifices of sin-offerings (back when this was possible!)

All these 39 Primary labors or categories are listed and defined by work needed to build the Tabernacle (49b).

The Torah tells us to rest on Shabbat. The Talmud tells us how.

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