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, March 26, 2013

Eruvin 18 – Adam’s Tail!

A creative translation allows for an extended discussion of the unique creation of Adam – the first man.

R. Jeremiah b. Eleazar said: The first man had two full faces, for it is said in Scripture: Thou hast shaped me behind and before. (PS. 139:5)

The Hebrew word tzartani , usually translated as “hemmed me in (before and after)” is here connected to tzurah (shape). This, along with the statement:

And the Lord God builded the side (tzaylah), etc. (Gen. 2:22)

 This creates a midrashic idea that G-d constructed Adam differently in the front than in behind.

What could that difference be? There are two schools of thought: “a full face” and “a tail.”

A “full face” means that Adam and Eve were created from the beginning as one entity – male and female back to back. “A tail” means that Adam was created originally as a tailed being, and that Eve was built up from that tail.

G-d either split the doubled human or split off the tail. The textual proofs and challenges for both are explored. But in either case, it is a far different story that Adam’s Rib!

And this is the strength of Jewish biblical interpretation – such views only strengthen not challenge the text.

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