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, March 15, 2013

Eruvin 7 – Don’t Listen to the Heavenly Voice

On the previous page there is a discussion about certain measures regarding alleyways. The argument was raised that the restrictive rulings of both the school of Hillel and the school of Shammai should be observed. But against that was a general principle:

Do we, however, adopt the restrictions of two [authorities who differ from one another]? Was it not in fact taught: The law is always in agreement with Beth Hillel, but he who wishes to act in agreement with the ruling of Beth Shammai may do so, and he who wishes to act according to the view of Beth Hillel may do so;

[he, however, who adopts] the more lenient rulings of Beth Shammai and the more lenient rulings of Beth Hillel is a wicked man, [while of the man who adopts] the restrictions of Beth Shammai and the restrictions of Beth Hillel Scripture said: But the fool walketh in darkness.(Eccl. 2:14)

A man should rather act either in agreement with Beth Shammai both in their lenient and their restrictive rulings or in agreement with Beth Hillel in both their lenient and their restrictive rulings?

Or page then gives a series of instances in which the restrictions of both are followed – creating a more difficult environment – one of walking in darkness.

One resolution of how it possible to say that the law is always in accordance with Hillel, but one is permitted to follow Shammai (isn’t that by definition illegal?) is to argue that this statement was made after the “bat kol” – the Divine Voice which spoke from Heaven and stated that the law is always in accordance with the School of Hillel.

And some (represented by Rabbi Joshua) don’t agree that a Divine Voice should determine the law. Lo ba Shamayim, he – the law is not in Heaven, it is in human hands!

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