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 5, 2013

Shabbat 153 - Preparing for the Afterlife

As we know, traditional Judaism - being focused on the responsibilities of this world - does not spend a lot of time on speculation about the world to come. There are some exceptions, though:
For it was taught: For a full [twelve months] the body is in existence and the soul ascends and descends; after twelve months the body ceases to exist and the soul ascends but descends nevermore.
Unlike the Greek philosophies, Judiasm sees body and soul as linked. While the body still exists, the soul is tied to this world.

Our actions in this world prepare us of the world to come. The parable is told of a king who announces that a banquet will take place but does not say when. Some of the guests prepare themselves and wait at the gate, others say they will be ready when the time comes. When the banquet is suddenly announced, those who are prepared rejoice in the king's presence, while those who were unready are humiliated. Thus the famous statement of R. Eliezer:
We learnt elsewhere, R. Eliezer said: Repent one day before your death. His disciples asked him, Does then one know on what day he will die? Then all the more reason that he repent to-day, he replied, lest he die to-morrow, and thus his whole life is spent in repentance. 
And Solomon too said in his wisdom, Let thy garments be always white; and let not thy head lack ointment. (Eccl. 9:8)

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