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)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Eruvin 15 – Accidental Side-post

We have been dealing with structures which contain certain spaces. A side-post may be used to define some of these spaces so that they are free to be used on Shabbat as a private space. This side-post can really be anything – literally thin as a reed – so long as it is intentional.
It was stated: A side-post put up accidentally [not for the intention of Shabbat], Abaye ruled, is a valid side-post, but Raba ruled: It is no valid side-post.
They differ only where [the residents] did rely upon it on the previous day.
 That is, if they used it on the day before Shabbat then it would count. For example a proper side-post which fell down on Shabbat. If we relied on an “accidental” side-post – some other item – it would count.

These side-posts can be made of anything, by the way. According to the Mishnah: even living animals! (I’m envisioning a cow tethered inside an alley. “Stay, Bessie!”) The same holds true for documents – including a writ of divorce! (now that has to be a scene in someone’s movie: a woman receives her divorce written on a cow’s hide. Hilarity ensues.)

But it is another scene found on this page which I find interesting:
Come and hear [of the incident] where Rab was sitting in a certain alley and [his student] R. Huna sat before him when [Rab] said to his attendant, ‘Go, bring me a jar of water’. By the time the latter returned, the side-post fell down and he motioned to him with his hand to remain in his place.
Said R. Huna to him, ‘Is not the Master of the opinion that one may rely upon the palm-tree?’(which happened to be at the entrance)
‘This young Rabbi’, he replied: ‘seems to think that people cannot explain a ruling they have heard! Did we rely upon it since yesterday?’

We don’t rely on the accident of a something already in place, which we suddenly convert for another purpose. It is the intention that matters.



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