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)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Eruvin 25 – The Rabbis Who Ruined the Party

The story is told of the Exilarch – the leader of the Babylonian Jewish community; a wealthy and powerful man who was often in a bit of a power struggle with the rabbis.

The Exilarch had a kind of (outdoor) banqueting hall in his orchard. ‘Will the Master’, he said to R. Huna b. Hinena, ‘make some provision whereby we might be enabled to dine there tomorrow’

Acceding to the rather polite request, R. Huna b. Hinena begins to construct an eruv by putting up a reed-fence with posts less than 3 handbreadths apart all around. This will define the space as “private” and allow the carrying of objects and utensils, essential for a lovely outdoor feast.

But the good times don’t last.

Raba, however, (who did not think the fence was necessary since he saw the courtyard as an extension) went there and pulled them out and R. Papa and R. Huna son of R. Joshua followed him and picked them up (so that R. Huna b. Hinena couldn’t put them back again)

Then the rabbis begin squabbling with each other, all making arguments about the status of the banqueting hall. Meanwhile nothing gets done and the party is ruined.

And the Exilarch gets the great comeback line, by quoting scripture (!):

They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge. (Jer. 4: 22)

But the fun part is: it’s the rabbis (who get the Exilarch’s smackdown) who put this story in the Talmud!

No comments:

Post a Comment