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)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Eruvin 90 – Upside Down Houseboat

The discussion of rooftops continues by examining the possibility of moving objects on Shabbat from a roof to various other spaces – like a column top, a ruin or an exedra. “What an inquiry!” Rabbah says.

But the notion of imaginary walls, as we saw on yesterday’s page, lead back to an earlier conversation (Eruvin 42) about ships.

Recall Rab and Samuel’s disagreement – Rab stating that objects can be moved throughout the ship on Shabbat, Samuel that objects can only be moved within four cubit. Here we have some additional rationale:

 ‘Rab ruled: It is permissible to move objects about throughout its area’ because it has walls; ‘and Samuel ruled: Objects may be moved only within four cubits’, since the walls were put up for the purpose of keeping out the water.

 ‘Rab’, explained R. Giddal in the name of R. Hiyya b. Joseph, ‘agrees nevertheless that if (the ship) was turned upside down objects on it may be moved only within four cubits.

Upside down, the ship’s hull becomes a roof!

 For what purpose, however, was it inverted? If it be suggested: For the purpose of dwelling under it, why, it could be objected, should its law be different from that of a single roof? — It was inverted rather for the purpose of being coated with pitch.

If it is a kind of ‘dwelling’ (who lives under a boat?) it is a roof. The “walls” rise up to make an imaginary barrier, just like a house. Only this is a “house boat” !

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