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)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Pesachim 23 – Double Positive

A discussion of this Torah verse:
And when you shall come into the land, and shall have planted all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count its fruit as uncircumcised; three years shall it be uncircumcised unto you; it shall not be eaten. (Lev. 19:23)
 Now of all the questions that could be asked about this verse – here we look at two words:

what is the purpose of ‘unto you’?

Remember, according to standard rabbinic exegesis, nothing in the Torah is superfluous. Every word is an opportunity for a lesson. This one, though, is not so clear:

For what was taught: ‘unto you’: this is to include what is planted for the public.

R. Judah said: It is to exclude what is planted for the public.

What is the reason of the first Tanna (that it includes the public)? Because it is written, ‘and ye shall have planted;’ [this] implies [a law] to the individual, but it does not imply [a law] for the public ; [therefore] the Merciful One wrote, ‘unto you’, to include what is planted for the public.
While R. Judah [argues]: ‘and ye shall have planted’ implies [a law] both to the public and to the individual, and ‘unto you’ [too] implies both for the public and for the individual: thus it is an extension after an extension, and an extension after an extension has no [other significance] save to limit.

That is: a double positive (extension) is a negative (limitation)!

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