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, May 8, 2013

Eruvin 61 – A Tale of Two Towns

The Mishnah describes two towns, a large one and small one, situated within each’s Sabbath boundary. But because the inhabitants of a large town how the limits of their town as part of their boundary, there are circumstances where they can travel throughout the small town, but the small town inhabitant can only travel to the extent of the Sabbath boundary which could terminate anywhere – even in the middle of the large town.

This gets into some two town rivalries, which might get a bit uncivilized. Having previously ruled that:

R. Joseph citing Rami b. Abba who had it from R. Huna ruled: If a town was situated on the edge of a ravine, and there was a barrier four cubits in height in front of it, its Sabbath limit is measured from the edge of the ravine, otherwise measuring must begin from the door of every inhabitant's house.
Rabbi permitted the inhabitants of Gader to go down (on the Sabbath) to Hamethan but did not allow the inhabitants of Hamethan to go up to Gader. Now what could have been the reason? Obviously, that the former did put up a barrier while the latter did not put up a barrier.

Ok, this might be a legal explanation. But maybe there is more:

When R. Dimi came (from Palestine) he explained: The people of Gader used to molest the people of Hamethan, and ‘permitted’ meant ordained’.

Ah, now we have a more complicated relationship! Still:

Then why should Sabbath be different from other days? — Because intoxication is not uncommon on such a day.

Sure! Blame it on the drink.

Would they (Gader) not molest them (Hamethan) when they come there? (to Hamethan) — No; a dog in a strange town does not bark for seven years.

Nice expression.

Now then, might not the people of Hamethan molest those of Gader? — No; they (Gader) were not so submissive as all that.

And would defend themselves. This feels like two towns with rival football teams! Go Gaders! (Hamethan better come up with a better team name. “Hamethan Hams” just isn’t going to work.)

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