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, January 24, 2013

Shabbat 113 – Making Shabbat Different

An interpretation of Isaiah 58: 13-14 (note: King James translation)

13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

The school of Rabbi Jannai interprets:

'and thou shalt honour it', (note that KJV translates “honour him” – vs honoring the Sabbath) that thy Sabbath garments should not be like thy weekday garments, and even as R. Johanan called his garments 'My honourers'. (i.e. the clothes make the man).

'Not doing thine own ways', that thy walking on the Sabbath shall not be like thy walking on weekdays.

'Nor finding thine own affairs': (note KJV translates as “pleasure”) thine affairs are forbidden, the affairs of Heaven [religious matters] are permitted.

'Nor speaking thine own words:' that thy speech [conversation] on the Sabbath should not be like thy speech on weekdays. (i.e. business talk) 'Speaking': speech is forbidden, but thought [about mundane matters] is permitted.

Shabbat is existentially different, but we mark that difference for ourselves not just by our restrictions (the primary theme of the tractate) but by our actions.

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