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 13, 2013

Eruvin 97 – Random Sample

Continuing our discussion from the Mishnah (on Eruvin 95a) which describes finding a pair (or more) of tefillin in a field on Shabbat:


Why the difference between old and new? They may or may not be kosher. This brings us to a discussion of determining the proper status of a set of Tefillin (a set being one for the arm and one for the head):

R. Hisda citing Rab ruled: If a man buys a supply of tefillin (for trade) from a non-expert he must examine two tefillin of the hand and one of the head, or two of the head and one of the hand.

Remember that the examination of Tefillin is a tedious process. To be done correctly one has to open them and examine the text inside, then sew them back together.
If the examination finds these three to be good, the entire supply is deemed to be good. But why two of one kind and one of the other?

 If he bought them from one man, why should he not examine either three of the hand or three of the head, and if he bought them from two or three persons, should not each one require examination (of each one)?

Since examination of goods from one supplier would tell nothing about those from another supplier.

The fact is that he bought them from one man, but it is necessary that his reputation shall be established in respect of those of the hand as well as those of the head.

But did not R. Kahana learn: In the case of tefillin one examines two of the hand and of the head? — This represents the view of Rabbi who laid down that if something has happened twice presumption is established.

Disagreement continues and in some cases examination of each individual set is required. But interesting that random sampling and presumption of continuity is established – even in something as important as religious items.

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