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 15, 2013

Eruvin 68 – Superposition

In Quantum Mechanics there is a fundamental principle known as “superposition” in which a discrete item (such as an electron) exists in all possible states (i.e. position, energy level) at once. Once it is observed or measured all the options “collapse” into the one reality.

I was reminded of this by a short aside in the text:
For we learned: If a corpse lay in a house that had many (closed) doors all the doorways (through which the corpse might be carried) are unclean.
If one of them was (standing) open, that doorway is unclean while all the others are clean (since the corpse would be carried through that door.) If it was intended to take out the corpse through one of (the closed doors) . . ., this protects all the (other) doors. 
Beth Shammai ruled: This (rule of intention) applies only where the intention was formed before the person in question was dead, but Beth Hillel ruled: Even if it was formed after he was dead.

All the doors are deemed to be “unclean” until the intention to use them is formed (Beth Shammai before death, Beth Hillel even after), because all routes are possible. Not the action of carrying, but the intention to carry, collapses the multiple possible states into one.

I find that pretty remarkable!

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