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)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Shabbat 146 – Lust and Control

Let’s let the rabbis speak:

Why are idolaters (ovdei kochavim) lustful? Because they did not stand at Mount Sinai. For when the serpent came upon Eve he injected a lust into her: [as for] the Israelites who stood at Mount Sinai, their lustfulness departed; the idolaters, who did not stand at Mount Sinai, their lustfulness did not depart.

Both lust and control are creations of G-d, and we humans live in balance. Torah, according to rabbinic understand, is the tool of counterbalance to our lustful natures – the laws teach us self-control.

R. Aha son of Raba asked R. Ashi. What about proselytes?

Though they were not present, their guiding stars (mazleyhu or “their mazal”) were present, as it is written, [Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath], but with him that standeth here with us this day before the Lord our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day. (Deut. 29:14)

Torah is freely available to all (they were there and Sinai as well!) and the ability to modify our behavior over against our more base desires is G-d's gift. 

And a different understanding of “Mazel Tov” !

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