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 27, 2012

Shabbat 85 – Illustrations

From reading Torah text, we are accustomed to long prose passages describing physical items – forcing the reading to create a mental image. For example the texts on construction of the Tabernacle in the wilderness.
The Talmud also contains descriptions such as the this one delineating the construction of seed-beds contained a variety of plants and how to keep them separate (so as not to defy the law of “mixed seeds” – see previous post):

R. Assi said: The internal area of the seed-bed must be six [handbreadths square], apart from its borders. It was taught likewise: The internal area of the seed-bed must be six [handbreadths square]. How much must its borders be?
R. Kahana said in R. Johanan's name: If one desires to fill his whole garden with vegetables, he can divide it into bed[s] six [handbreadths] square, describe in each a circle five [handbreadths in diameter], and fill its corners with whatever he pleases.

Interestingly, the commentary contains several diagrams – illustrations of various layouts of seed beds, six handbreaths square. Here is an image of page 85a with the illustrating diagrams:


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