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)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pesachim 5 – First Things First

A really interesting interpretation of the word Hebrew word rishon, based on the Torah verse:

In the first month (rishon), on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread. . . (Ex. 12:18)

The School of R. Ishmael taught: We find that the fourteenth is called the “first”, as it is said, on the first, on the fourteenth day of the month.

R. Nahman b. Isaac said: ‘The first’ [ba-rishon] means the preceding, for the Scripture says: Wast thou born, before [rishon] Adam? (Job 15:7 – lit. “Are you the first man born?”)

If so, [what about], and ye shall take you out the first [rishon] day, [the boughs of goodly trees. . . ](Lev. 23:40) — does ‘rishon’ here too mean the preceding? — There it is different, because it is written, and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days: (ibid.) Just as the seventh [means] the seventh of the Festival, so the first [means] the first of the Festival. . .

For the School of R. Ishmael taught: As a reward for [the observance of] the three ‘firsts’ [Israel] merited three firsts. . .:

To cut off the seed of Esau - of whom it is written, And the first came forth red, all over like an hairy garment; (Gen. 25:25)

The building of the Temple - whereof it is written, A glorious throne, set on high from the first is the place of our sanctuary; (Jer. 17:12)

And the name of Messiah - for it is written, First unto Zion, behold, behold them. (Is. 41:27)

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