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 24, 2012

Shabbat 82 – Secular Studies

There is more about bathroom etiquette on this page – again, no details gentle reader. Except to remind us that when nature calls, don’t wait!

Also some discussion about the similarities between idols and a menstruating woman. Again, we will spare details – plenty to talk about both subjects in other Talmudic tractates (Avodah Zara and Niddah respectively.)

But the page opens with this rather interesting dialogue between a father and son:

R. Huna said to his son Rabbah, ‘Why are you not to be found before R. Hisda, whose dicta are [so] keen?’ ‘What should I go to him for,’ answered he, ‘seeing that when I go to him he treats me to secular discourses!’ (mili d’alma)

What then follows in an example of R. Hisda’s bathroom-oriented teaching. I edit for your delicate disposition.

R. Huna then responds to his son:

 ‘He is busy with matters of life and health,’ he exclaimed, ‘and you call them secular discourses! All the more reason for going to him!’

Talmudic study is about more than Jewish law. Life and health and the full range of human experience.

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