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, June 17, 2013

Eruvin 101 – Natural Ethics

The page follows the laws of unattached doors and the movement of keys and bolts on Shabbat. Lifting an unattached door can seem like building, a key can be accidently carried from one domain to another and bolts were often unattached (unless there was a cord tied to it) and might carelessly be used for other purposes. Such are the protections. Sometimes they can seem a little over the top – which why, perhaps, this story is tucked in:

A certain Sadducee once said to R. Joshua b. Hananiah. ‘You are a brier, since of you it is written in Scripture: the best of them is as a brier (Micah 7:4)’. ‘Foolish man’, the other replied, ‘look up the conclusion of the text where it is written: The upright man is a better [protection] than a tabernacle (sharper than a thorn hedge).

‘What then was meant by The best of them is as a brier?’ ‘As briers protect a gap so do the best men among us protect us’.

Which fits nicely with a comment on natural ethics from the previous page:

R. Johanan observed: If the Torah had not been given we could have learnt modesty from the cat, honesty from the ant, chastity from the dove, and good manners from the rooster who first coaxes and then mates.

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