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)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Eruvin 80 – Possession Unaware or Undeclared

A shared possession, shittuf, like a barrel of wine shared by all the residents around an alley, is used to relax some restrictions. An earlier Mishnah (79a) describes how that transfer takes place: a declaration made by one resident that this is a shared possession, and messengers sent to each of the residents. Rab Judah adds that the jar has to be lifted from the ground as part of the declaration.

But on our page there is a question as to whether any of this is necessary. Does possession have to be transferred?

It was stated: The food for the shittuf of alleys, Rab ruled, requires no transfer of possession, and Samuel ruled: It does require transfer of possession. . .

And so a story is told:

The question of transfer is a point at issue between Tannas. For Rab Judah related in the name of Rab: The daughter-in-law of R. Oshaia was once overtaken by dusk (on the eve of Shabbat) when she went to a bath house (beyond the Sabbath limit) and her mother-in-law prepared for her an ‘erub.

R. Hiyya to whom the incident was reported forbade her return. “Babylonian”, said R. Ishmael son of R. Jose to him, “are you so strict about the laws of ‘erub? Thus said my father: ‘Wherever you see an opportunity of relaxing the laws of ‘erub seize it!’”

The discussion then goes to the question of what the mother-in-law might have done wrong. Did she neglect to transfer the possession or was it that all was done without the daughter-in-law’s knowledge. In either case, though, the statement of R. Hiyya’s father is that the goal of eruv is to make people’s lives easier, not harder!

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