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)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Eruvin 86 – Honoring the Wealthy

A phrase in the Mishnah is discussed:


Meaning, if the owner of a property has items stored within it, the resident does not have ownership in the eruv and if he forgot to contribute it does not create restrictions for anyone else.

This leads to a story about wealthy owners. It should be remembered that rabbinic stories often have the wealthy as the object of jokes, or as normally greedy and being made to see the light of their responsibility by a wise rabbi. Here, however, the relationship is different:

The son of Bonyis (a very wealthy man) once visited Rabbi. ‘Make room’, the latter called out, ‘for the owner of a hundred maneh’. Another person entered, when he called out ‘Make room for the owner of two hundred maneh’. ‘Master’, said R. Ishmael son of R. Jose to him, ‘the father of this man owns a thousand ships on the sea and a corresponding number of towns on land’. ‘When you meet his father’, the other replied: ‘tell him not to send him to me in such clothes’.

The wealthy should look the part!

Rabbi showed respect to rich men, and R. Akiba also showed respect to rich men, in agreement with an exposition made by Raba b. Mari: May he be enthroned before God for ever, appoint mercy and truth that they may preserve him,(Ps. 61:8) when ‘may he be enthroned before God for ever’? When he ‘appoint mercy and truth that they may preserve him’.

That is, the wealthy should be accorded respect (‘enthroned’) - when they fulfill their obligation to take care of (‘preserve’) those who are in need. Assuming they do!

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