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, January 23, 2013

Shabbat 112 – Sandals and Scholars

The Mishnah on the previous page discusses the tying and untying of knots on Shabbat. “Permanent” knots are not permitted, but “temporary” ones are. In the Mishnah, R. Meir says:


The Mishnah goes on to specify items of women’s clothing, i.e. a laced up garment, ribbons and sandals which may be tied.

Our page goes into a long discussion about sandals, which knots are “permanent” and which are “temporary.” There is contradictory evidence about whether a sandal with a strap broken in public is considered like a utensil, which may be carried on Shabbat, or not. Complicated by the fact that a sandal can carry impurity (if worn by someone with a leprous condition or having a discharge) AND is also used for the ceremony of halitzah – a release by a widow of her bother-in-law’s biblical obligation to marry her. Sandals are complicated!

A debate over some of the details is held between Hezekiah and R. Johanan. When R. Johanan solves an especially tricky problem in a brilliant way, Hezekiah exclaims: “This one is not the son of man!” – A superhero rabbi.

Which leads to a comment about the loss of scholarship over the ages:

R. Zera said in Raba b. Zimuna's name: If the earlier [scholars] were sons of angels, we are sons of men; and if the earlier [scholars] were sons of men, we are like asses.

All over sandals and their knots!

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