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)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Shabbat 77 - Natural History

Although the primary discussion is on the minimum amount of certain liquids which constitutes illegal carrying on Shabbat (a swallow of milk, the amount of wine mixed with water - as was done in those days), there is a sweet digression into a kind of "Natural History." It includes a series of "just so" tales: why do goats go in herds before sheep? The dark herd is followed by the light one, just like the beginning of creation. Why do camels have short tails? Because they eat thorns and a long tail would get caught in the brambles, etc.

But it begins with the ways that animals are used for cures - particularly for the stings and bites of other animals:

"Rab Judah said in Rab's name: Of all that the Holy One, blessed be He, created in His world, He did not create a single thing without purpose."

What follows is a series of folk remedies - like a crushed spider for a scorpion sting.

That is to say, G-d sends the disease, and the cure! Both in the forms of nature.

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