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)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Shabbat 121 – Implied for Reward

With all the potential saving of goods one may do if a fire breaks out on Shabbat, the one thing you cannot do is put the fire out. However, the Mishnah states that if a non-Jew comes to put out the fire, a Jew is not to say “extinguish it” or “do not extinguish it” – because he is not obligated to rest on Shabbat and we are not obligated to make a non-Jew rest.

However, the rabbis allow an implication:

R. Ammi said: In the case of a conflagration they [the Rabbis] permitted one to announce, 'Whoever extinguishes [it] will not lose [thereby].'

Suggesting, but not stating, that a reward will be forthcoming after the Shabbat (of course, one DOES have to fulfill the implied reward!)

A story illustrates:

Our Rabbis taught: It once happened that a fire broke out in the courtyard of Joseph b. Simai in Shihin, and the men of the garrison at Sepphoris came to extinguish it, because he was a steward of the king. But he did not permit them, in honour of the Sabbath, and a miracle happened on his behalf, rain descended and extinguished [it].

In the evening he sent two sela' to each of them, and fifty to their captain.

Now, according to our Mishana, he did not have to tell them not to extinguish it – he could have remained silent. But he is rewarded by heaven for piety. And the soldiers are rewarded Joseph b. Simai for dedication.

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