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 24, 2013

Pesachim 4 – Delayed Reaction

The careful use of language is continued on this page with the announcement of death. The examples given show the person who holds the sad news as being circuitous in letting it be known, as a way of lessening the shock. For example – R. Hiyya asks for news of his brother from his nephew Rab:

When he went up [to Palestine from Babylonia] [R. Hiyya] asked him, ‘Is Aibu alive?’

‘[Ask me whether] my mother is alive,’ he replied.

‘Is your mother alive?’ asked he.

‘Is Aibu alive?’ he replied.

Which would almost be a comedy routine if it weren’t conveying sad news: both were dead. Incidentally, R. Hiyya’s short period of mourning serves as an example for how to mourn when the news of death has been greatly delayed. Instead of the traditional 7 days, only 1 day of mourning is observed – and any part of that one day (say the knowledge is given in the afternoon) counts as the whole.

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