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, December 20, 2012

Shabbat 78 - Common and Uncommon Use

"Abaye said, Consider: Whatever has a common use and an uncommon use, the Rabbis followed the common use, [even] in the direction of leniency"

For example wine. Most often wine is used for drinking. On occasion a much smaller amount might be applied externally as a remedy. But the "minimum" standard (that is the amount which is considered illegal carrying on Shabbat) follows the more common use - which is a greater amount.


"where it has two common uses, the Rabbis followed the common use [which leads to] stringency."

So, for example, honey - which was commonly eaten and also commonly applied as a remedy. The amount which constitutes "eating" is generally the size of a dried fig, so you might think this would be the amount set as a minimum. However, based on the above principle, the Mishnah chooses the more stringent amount: HONEY, SUFFICIENT TO PLACE ON A SCAB.

So, the Shabbat laws vary depending on how things are used. What happens when their usage changes? Does anyone use honey for healing a scab? Do most people?

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