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, April 6, 2013

Eruvin 29 – Onions and Beer

Are condiments considered as part of the meal needed to be left in a space to help define an eruv?

The Master said: ‘Olives and onions must suffice to provide a relish for bread for two meals’.

It was most common to use these as garnishes on bread. But onions present their own problem:

Is it, however, permitted to prepare all erub from onions? . . . For it was taught: ‘If a man ate an onion and [was found] dead early [on the following morning] there is no need to ask what was the cause of his death’

Oops. Maybe they’re more to those onion rings than bad breath!

I mean, it can get really bad:

Our Rabbis taught: No one should eat onion on account of the poisonous fluid it contains; and it once happened that R. Hanina ate half an onion and half of its poisonous fluid and became so ill that he was on the point of dying. His colleagues, however, begged for heavenly mercy, and he recovered because his contemporaries needed him.

Umm, I’ll pass – thanks.

Samuel stated: This was taught in respect of the leaves only but against [the eating of] the bulbs there call be no objection;

and even regarding the leaves this has been said only where the onion has not grown [to the length of] a span but where it has grown to that length there can be no objection.

Whew! Bring ‘em on. But wait, it gets better:

R. Papa said: This has been said only where one drank no beer [with them] but where one did drink some beer there can be no danger.

In fact, beer’s a meal:

it is usual for people to drink one cup in the morning and another in the evening and to rely upon these [as their meals].

Breakfast of champions! And dinner, too.

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