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)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Eruvin 91 – Danger is not the Norm

What areas are constituted as a common domain – like carrying from a roof to a courtyard on Shabbat – continue to be discussed. For example:

‘It was taught in agreement with Rab’: All the roofs of a town constitute a single domain, and it is forbidden to carry objects up or down from the courtyards on to the roofs or from the roofs into the courtyards respectively; but objects that were in a courtyard when the Sabbath began may be moved about within the courtyard, and if they were at that time on the roofs they may be so moved on the roofs, provided no roof was ten handbreadths higher or lower than all adjoining roofs;

so R. Meir. The Sages, however, ruled: Each one is a separate domain and no object may be moved in it except within four cubits.

But a contrary story is told:

R. Judah related: It once happened that during a time of danger we carried a scroll of the Law from a courtyard into a roof, from the roof into a courtyard, and from the courtyard into a karpaf in order to read in it.

This was during the repressions following the Bar Kochba revolt (132-136 CE). Hadrian forbade such things as Torah study, Shabbat observance and circumcision. Obviously a wrenching time which led to the martyrdom of Rabbi Akiva and others.

These persecutions, which lasted until Hadrian’s death in 138 CE, forced those who wanted to maintain the traditions into hiding and subterfuge. Interestingly, the Rabbis looking back at this time respond:

 They, however, said to him: A time of danger can supply no proof.

Even the heroism of the martyrs does not supply legal justification for normal times.

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