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)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Shabbat 116 – Seven Books of Torah!

A Torah scroll is considered too worn to be rescued from a fire on Shabbat  if there are not 85 legible letters. This comes from the 85 letters in section from Numbers 10:35-36

And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, Lord, and let your enemies be scattered; and let them who hate you flee before you. And when it rested, he said, Return, O Lord, to the many thousands of Israel.

This section is set off in the text with a large Hebrew letter NUN before and after. Rabbi regards this as a separate book entirely! With the preceding and subsequent sections included, it makes for seven books of Torah – referenced in the verse She [Wisdom] hath hewn out her seven pillars (Prov. 9:1).

Others argue that these NUN’s mark the section to indicate that it is in the wrong place in the narrative – inserted there for dramatic purposes – and will be returned to it’s proper place in the messianic era.

The page also has tirades against the books of the Minim – possibly Judeo-Christians. It is not entirely clear, since much of the Talmudic text relating to early Christianity (when it was still a Jewish sect) was edited out in the Middle Ages so as not to be mistakenly seen as a critique of modern Christianity. That, by itself, if a really interesting subject!

(note: a very interesting book on the subject is “Jesus in the Talmud” by Peter Schafer).

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